Balance and Feeling Sick

Hands | Otorhinolaryngology | Balance and Feeling Sick (Symptom)


Balance is the ability to keep a standing position and move without falling over. The parts of the body which send information to the brain about body position are: the eyes, the sense organs in the skin, muscles and joints, and the labyrinth of the inner ear. The part of the brain called cerebellum integrates the information and sends instructions to enable various parts of the body to perform adjustments needed to maintain balance.

A balance disorder is a condition that makes a person feel unsteady or dizzy, as if he/she was moving, spinning, or floating, even though he/she is standing still or lying down.


Balance disorders can be caused by certain health conditions, medications, problems with the inner ear or the brain. Disorders affecting the ear, brain, or spinal cord commonly affect balance. Ear disorders include labyrinthitis and Ménière’s disease.

Less commonly, otitis media may affect balance. Damage to nerve tracts in the spinal cord, which carry information from position sensors to the joints and muscles, can also impair balance. This damage may result from spinal tumors, circulatory disorders, nerve degeneration due to deficiency of vitamin B12, or, rarely, tabes dorsalis, a complication of syphilis. A tumor or stroke that affects the cerebellum may cause clumsiness of the arms and legs and other features of impaired muscular coordination.

A circulatory system disorder, such as low blood pressure, can lead to a feeling of dizziness when we suddenly stand up. Problems in the skeletal or visual systems, such as arthritis or eye muscle imbalance, may also cause balance issues. However, many balance disorders can begin all of a sudden and with no obvious cause.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Balance disorders are serious. Sometimes they are a sign of other health problems, such as those affecting the brain, the heart, or circulation of the blood. They are also a common cause of falls and fall-related injuries in older people. For these reasons, it is important to have a balance disorder diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.


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