How does vestibular dysfunction affect older people?


Although older adults with vestibular dysfunction are likely to experience the same symptoms as everyone else, they are at increased risk for falls due to dizziness or balance problems. Other common aspects of aging, such as reduced muscle strength or other mobility issues, can contribute to this risk. Some of these falls can be serious, leading to injury or death. Almost 10 percent of people over 65 years of age will experience vestibular disorders that require medical attention. Also, some doctors think that our risk for the most common type of vestibular dysfunction, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), increases as we age.

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Vestibular Dysfunction

The vestibular system, which includes parts of the inner ear and brain, helps you balance and move your eyes. When things go wrong with this system - because of injury, disease, or aging - vestibular dysfunction occurs.If you suff...

er from vestibular dysfunction, you may feel dizzy or off balance, have tinnitus (ringing in your ears), and even have trouble reading or doing arithmetic. People may mistake your symptoms and think you are lazy, nervous, or don't pay attention. For some, just describing symptoms is scary. For others, getting out of bed in the morning is difficult. Sometimes, going about your day is nearly impossible. Vestibular dysfunction can lead to other problems, such as short-term memory lapses, confusion, low self-esteem and self-confidence, anxiety or panic attacks, and depression. Motion sickness, nausea or vomiting, ear pain, and headaches are some other side effects. Vestibular dysfunction can be treated in a variety of ways.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.