It was the end of the 19th century when people began to pay due attention to balance disorders and vertigo. Today, there are many causes of vertigo and loss of balance (unsteadiness). We will consider some of them in the article.
Vertigo or acrophobia? There is a difference
Very often acrophobia (the fear of heights) is equated to vertigo. However, acrophobia is a psychological phenomenon, while vertigo can be a physical response of the body to the fear of heights or empty spaces. Giddiness occurs because of inner ear disorders while being disorientated, for example, while experiencing stress or fear. In such cases, balance disorders and giddiness are also accompanied by nausea, ophthalmologic problems or migraines.
Treatment of acrophobia (fear of heights) and kenophobia (fear of empty spaces) with CyberTherapy and Virtual Reality
It is very difficult to force a patient start treatment exposing him face to face to his fear. Most therapies work in such a way and help to fight different fears and phobias.
Virtual reality has been already used for the treatment of acrophobia for more than ten years. With the help of a special mask and 3D images, the patient is transferred to virtual reality that resembles a real life. Gradually, the situations that cause fear are added to the virtual reality. On average, a two-month course with 2 sessions per week is enough for the patient completely to get rid of the phobia.
Regular falls among older people
There are forms of balance disorders and vertigo that are mainly typical for older people. An elderly patient starts feeling dizzy after an abrupt change in position, especially an abrupt change in position from a lying position to an upright position. Because of such dizziness, elderly patients often fall and receive various injuries, which may be fatal.
This phenomenon is called orthostatic hypotension
when a sharp decrease in pressure is caused when a person stands up after sitting or lying. Twenty-five percent of the elderly population has such a pathology.
After the first fall, the patient should be hospitalized at the clinic, where doctors will carefully monitor the pressure after the changes in body position.
Labile blood pressure when changing body positions is often the only symptom of orthostatic hypotension. Less frequently, the pathology is accompanied by dizziness and malaise. In the clinic, doctors examine and refute other possible causes of dizziness, such as malnutrition, dehydration, or medication intake.
In France, more than 9,000 older people die annually from falls because of orthostatic hypotension.
Vertigo and balance disorders among young people
Often seemingly healthy young people experience vertigo attacks and balance disorders several times a month. These attacks may last for about 20 minutes and are usually accompanied by ear congestion
. In rare cases, there are even daily attacks of vertigo, accompanied by nausea and diarrhea. These attacks bother the patient, as they may appear suddenly, and it is impossible to foresee them. Many patients need psychological support.
The cause of this pathology may be a dysfunction of the inner ear
Patients take a series of tests during which the doctor studies the eyeball since the inner ear is closely connected with the eyes, and any malfunctions in the auditory sensory system affect the visual system. Even simple eye twitches may indicate a problem with the inner ear.
There are also special apparatuses that help to find out how the patient maintains equilibrium in everyday life. This test is taken from time to time so that doctors are aware of the progression of the pathology. The patient stands on a special platform and focuses his eyes on the red dot; then he needs to remain on his feet and keep his balance in the dark with the disk-ball blinking. Then the doctor analyzes how the patient maintains equilibrium - whether he uses his vision, how the vestibular apparatus and other organs are involved in this process.
Vestibular implant - an innovation that has changed the lives of patients with inner ear dysfunction
The ear is an organ that gives us the opportunity not only to hear but also to keep balance. Earlier, people with inner ear dysfunction just accepted this problem lived with it, but now everything has changed after the invention of a new vestibular implant. When inner ear dysfunction affects two ears, a person disorientates in space, he experiences difficulties in walking and transferring the weight of the body from one foot to another. Besides, the vision becomes blurred.
This pathology is quite rare. In France, 200 people have inner ear dysfunction of both ears. The implant is a real gift for such people. The implant consists of two parts. The first part is placed in the outer ear; it picks up the movements and transmits information to the vestibular apparatus with the help of the second part that consists of electrodes.
Patients’ lives have changed greatly after the invention of this prosthesis. Despite the fact that the implant requires further improvements, the important steps in combating balance disorders have already been taken!