What are the most common causes of dizziness and balance problems?

A wide variety of diseases, illnesses, and other conditions can contribute to dizziness and balance problems in an individual. These symptoms may be the result of a more serious condition and should not be ignored. Common causes of lightheadedness and balance difficulties include a variety of inner ear problems, as well as possible neurological conditions. Also, problems with fainting, turning, or balance can be attributed to some psychological disorders.

Dizziness and balance problems associated with the inner ear may be the result of a condition called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. This is one of the most common causes of vertigo, and is characterized by a brief spinning sensation or fainting when moving your head or turning rapidly. Another inner ear condition that can cause lightheadedness is Meniere's disease, a condition in which fluid builds up in the ear. Meniere's disease can cause a sudden onset of vertigo that can last for several hours. An inner ear infection, sometimes called a labyrinth, can also cause dizziness and balance problems.

In more severe cases, dizziness and balance problems can be the result of a neurological condition, such as multiple sclerosis, brain tumor, or stroke. Other serious neurological problems, such as a brain hemorrhage or normal pressure hydrocephalus, can also be the reason for problems with balance or lightheadedness. If the cause is a neurological condition, the dizziness and loss of balance will likely be accompanied by other symptoms, such as headaches, double vision, numbness in the facial region, and slurred speech.

Some psychological disorders can also cause dizziness or lightheadedness. Panic attacks and phobias, such as fear of open spaces or claustrophobia, can cause dizziness or lightheadedness. Conversely, vertigo itself can also be the trigger for anxiety. For example, if the dizziness is initially the result of another cause, such as inflammation of the inner ear, the vertigo may be prolonged by feelings of anxiety arising from the situation.

A host of other conditions can cause an individual to suffer from dizziness and balance problems. These can include diabetes, low blood pressure, or a variety of heart conditions. Some medications and treatments can also be the reason for a loss of balance or lightheadedness in people. Muscle or joint weakness and sensory disturbances are the most common causes of dizziness and balance problems in the elderly.

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