Medical conditions can rob you of your balance

BOSTON, MA – Balance tends to erode with age, which can lead to falls. For older people, falls are the leading cause of death from injury and a major cause of disability. Even if a fall doesn't cause severe damage, it increases the chances of another fall. Yet falls aren't an inevitable consequence of growing older. It's possible to regain equilibrium and compensate for permanent balance deficits, reports the August issue of the Harvard Health Letter.

Conflicting reports from our eyes, ears, and central nervous system can affect our balance. But balance can also suffer from such disorders as these:

  • Neurological conditions. Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and strokes are among those that can affect balance.
  • Diabetes. Nerve damage in the feet makes it difficult to walk.
  • Vertigo. This sensation of dizziness may come from ear disorders or simply from the aging of the inner ear's balance system.
  • Postural hypotension. A drop in blood pressure when you sit up or stand up can cause lightheadedness and even fainting.
  • Foot problems. Corns, bunions, and hammertoes are both a cause and a result of uneven balance.
  • Eye diseases. Cataracts and glaucoma are stealthy thieves of sight and balance. Balance nearly always improves after successful cataract surgery.
  • Medications. Sedatives, blood pressure medicines, antidepressants, and antihistamines are among those that may cause dizziness.

To retain or regain your balance, the Harvard Health Letter suggests that you get active to maintain the neural connections necessary for good balance, improve your posture so you won't be apt to fall, and maintain your strength for a good foundation.

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