Walking is one of those things you probably take for granted, like breathing and blinking and a sad episode of “This Is Us.” But if you actually stop to think about it, walking without tripping is a surprisingly complex process – one that your vestibular system handles for you on a daily basis.
The Human Balance System
Proper balance is crucial, to both your checkbook and your body. It prevents you from falling, reducing your risk of serious injury, especially as you age – falls are a major health concern for the elderly and a leading cause of injury and death. Your vestibular system not only keeps you upright, it enables you to see clearly when moving and orient yourself in relation to gravity. It determines your direction and speed of movement and automatically makes adjustments to your posture and stability while coordinating movement and balance. Most impressive of all is the fact that few people in Reno give any of this much thought – until something goes wrong.
The vestibular system is comprised of two parts – the semicircular canals, a trio of tubes in the inner ear that are interconnected and filled with endolymphatic fluid that perceive rotational movement, and the otoliths, organs that detect linear acceleration. This information, along with sensory input from the eyes, muscles, and joints, is sent to the brain in the form of symmetrical impulses. The brain can then determine position and acceleration and maintain equilibrium.
Balance Disorders in Reno
Balance disorders and other problems in the vestibular system may cause the brain to receive conflicting sensory information, leading to dizziness, vertigo, nausea, headache, double vision and other symptoms. Common conditions such as Meniere’s disease, labyrinthitis and Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo are often diagnosed in Reno patients suffering from disorders of the balance system. They are also leading causes of hearing loss, so early treatment is key. If you are experiencing dizziness or balance problems, your Reno audiologist will administer a balance assessment test to measure vestibular system functionality. Several tests are available including videonystagmography, vestibulo-ocular reflex testing and evoked potential tests. The one(s) you are given will depend on your symptoms and degree of impairment.