Body

Vertigo: Steady as you go

If keeping your balance is a stretch, you may need help.

By Donna Fleming
Balance. Photo/Getty Images.

Good balance is something we take for granted, until we don’t have it any more. Feeling wobbly can be due to a number of causes – and while some
may be temporary and fairly minor, others are a sign of a more serious problem.

Being unsteady on your feet is a concern in itself because it can lead to falls, so it is important to try and figure out what is making you feel that way so you can fix it.

POSSIBLE CAUSES
• You’re suffering from vertigo, which leads to dizziness and can be due to a variety of conditions, including Ménière’s disease
• You have an inner-ear problem
• Your blood pressure drops when you stand up, causing you to feel wobbly
• You have problems with your feet, such as corns or bunions, that result in uneven balance
• Your sight is affected by an eye condition, such as cataracts or glaucoma. This can impact your balance
• You may have a neurological condition, such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis
• You’ve got damage in your feet due to diabetes
• You have sustained a head injury
• You have unstable joints, which make you wobbly
• You often suffer from extreme anxiety

MEDICATION
Some prescription drugs can have side effects that impact on your balance. These include:
• Blood pressure and some heart medications
• Antidepressants
• Anti-anxiety drugs
• Antihistamines
• Painkillers
• Sleeping pills
In many cases, it is not one drug that causes problems, but a combination of several medications being taken at once. If you suspect balance problems could be from drugs, talk to your doctor.

TREATMENT
This depends on what’s causing your unsteadiness. Possible treatments include:
• Exercise: As well as specific exercises to help compensate for balance issues, general physical activity can help by strengthening core and leg muscles.
• Diet and lifestyle changes: People with migraine-related balance problems may find their symptoms improve when they reduce or cut out nicotine, caffeine, alcohol and chocolate. Drinking more fluids and wearing compression stockings may help if blood pressure is leading to your imbalance.

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