Balance is essential to basic body functions, like walking, standing, and various forms of exercise. Poor balance, whether consistent or sudden, can be an indication a sign of a larger issue. Some are small scale, while others are more serious; but bad balance should be explored just in case it means more.
The inner ear is closely associated with balance. Fluid in canals within the inner ear system work together with nerves to determine which way the head is moving, and how the body is positioned in relation to the head. Problems in the inner ear like ear infections or nerve damage can affect balance. Labyrinthitis is the name for the condition by which the nerve that detects head movement becomes inflamed, which can throw you off balance. While middle ear infections are more common in children, they may still occur in adults. Visiting an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor can help to rule out inner ear problems if you are experiencing problems with balance.
Nerves in the legs and spinal cord help with balance during walking and standing. Damage to leg nerves can be called peripheral neuropathy and spinal stenosis, which are the gradual narrowing of the spinal column to affect the spinal cord. This can affect a person’s ability to balance.
Sometimes, neurological conditions like cervical spondylosis and Parkinson’s disease are responsible for poor balance. These conditions usually occur gradually and with a combination of other symptoms. Always let your doctor know about any issues with balance so they can note it in your health record for consistent follow-ups.
Joint, Muscle, or Vision Problems
Muscle injuries, shaky joints, and any vision impairments can contribute to poor balance called disequilibrium. In fact, eye issues impact balance so much that some yoga classes use closing the eyes as a way to make balancing poses more challenging.
Some medications have side effects that include dizziness, which can impact balance due to vision impairment or light-headedness. Always ask your doctor or pharmacists if medications will affect you this way.
Strokes or brain bleeds and intracerebral hemorrhages or sudden, large brain bleeds can also impact balance. These conditions typically occur suddenly and should be treated as emergencies by calling 911 and following up at the hospital.
Losing balance can be a sign of all sorts of different medical conditions, or it could simply be a product of individual clumsiness. Some people are simply predisposed to have poor balance and can improve it through practice and focus. Of course, if you suffer from poor balance often and severely, always check with your doctor.