Dizziness or imbalance is one of the most common complaints of senior citizens. And nearly half of adults older than 40 will have some kind of balance problem in their lives.

But intervention and therapy can help.Balance and hearing loss will be the subject of the Deseret News/ Intermountain Health Care Health Hotline today. From 10 a.m. to noon, physical therapist Janene Burton and audiologist Don Worthington of the IHC Hearing and Balance Center will take calls and answer questions. The toll-free number is 1-800-925-8177.

Burton is one of two physical therapists at the center charged with "getting people back on their feet" after a balance problem has been diagnosed.

Figuring out what leads to balance problems can pose a real chal-lenge because symptoms can be related to cardiac, neurologic, endocrine and psychological systems of the body.

They can also be caused by aging, stroke, head injury, inner-ear problems, orthopedic problems, central nervous system disorders or a combination of those and other medical challenges, according to the center.

Ninety million Americans will experience a bout of dizziness in their lives. Balance complaints are a very common aftermath of a serious head injury or stroke. And impaired balance is a key factor in falls by senior citizens - and between one-third to one-half of those older than 65 suffer at least minor falls every year.

Those falls can be costly, disabling and can affect a person's confidence and lifestyle, Burton said. They are also a red flag and indicate the person should be seen by a specialist.

Signs of a possible equilibrium disorder include:

- A sudden onset of severe dizziness with nausea and/or vertigo.

- A feeling of motion, spinning or falling when moving your head quickly.

- Difficulty getting around in the dark.

- Difficulty walking down an aisle in a grocery store or mall.

- A fear of stumbling or falling.

- Difficulty keeping balance when moving from one surface to another.

- A feeling of drifting or being pulled to one side while walking.

Burton said there is a myth that falls are an inevitable part of aging. But exercise and healthy living which keep the body strong can help with balance, too, she said.

There is other good news. As many as 80 percent of the people who have balance problems are good candidates for balance therapy and up to 90 percent of those show significant improvement following treatment.


Additional Information

Call hotline today for help

Do you have a balance disorder?

Two experts will be available to answer your questions about ears, balance and related topics today during the monthly Deseret News/Intermountain Health Care. Call the hotline's toll-free number, 1-800-925-8177 be-tween 10 a.m. and noon Saturday.

Callers need not give their names. An article summarizing some of the questions and replies is planned for Sunday's Deseret News.