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    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Patient Balance Problems

    Millions of people may suffer from inner-ear disorders that affect their balance but not be aware that they have a problem, a new study has found.Writing in The Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers noted the connection between balance problems and falls, especially among the elderly. The findings of the study, they said, suggest that doctors should make balance tests a routine part of checkups. This is especially true in nursing and assisted-living homes, they said.

    “The big deal here really is falls,” the lead author, Dr. Yuri Agrawal of Johns Hopkins, said in an e-mail message, adding that a serious fall can be the beginning of the end for an older patient.The researchers drew on data from a federal study in which more than 5,000 people age 40 and over were surveyed about their history of falls and balance problems. They were then given examinations to determine how well they could maintain their balance in a variety of situations, including with their eyes closed.

    More than a third of the subjects, the researchers found, had the balance disorder known as vestibular dysfunction — a figure that would translate to 69 million Americans.They also found that 32 percent of the volunteers who did not report problems with dizziness showed evidence of balance problems. Though they did not experience symptoms, they were still at higher risk for falls, the study said.
    For doctors, Dr. Agrawal said, detecting balance problems in a patient is not very complicated. And treatment is available, including exercises that help people compensate for inner-ear problems that lead to poor balance.The cost of the treatment, they said, would most likely be less than medical costs associated with falls.

    Please remember, as with all our articles we provide information, not medical advice. For any treatment of your own medical condition you must visit your local doctor, with or without our article[s]. These articles are not to be taken as individual medical advice.

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