Common Balance Problem Indicators

The vestibular system includes the parts of the inner ear and the brain that help control balance and eye movements. If the system is damaged by disease, aging, or injury, vestibular disorders can result. Symptoms may include vertigo, dizziness, and imbalance, among others. The following is a list of symptoms that have been reported by people with vestibular disorders. Not all symptoms will be experienced by every person and other symptoms are possible. An inner ear disorder may be present even in the absence of obvious or severe symptoms. It is important to note that most of these individual symptoms can also be caused by other unrelated conditions.

Balance and spatial orientation 

  • Imbalance, stumbling, difficulty walking straight or turning a corner 
  • Clumsiness or difficulty with coordination 
  • Difficulty maintaining straight posture; tendency to look downward to confirm the location of the ground 
  • Head may be held in a tilted position 
  • Tendency to touch or hold onto something when standing, or to touch or hold the head while seated 
  • Sensitivity to changes in walking surfaces or footwear 
  • Muscle and joint pain (due to difficulty balancing)

Vertigo and dizziness

  • Spinning or whirling sensation; an illusion of the self or world moving (vertigo) 
  • Lightheaded, floating, or rocking sensation (dizziness) 
  • Sensation of being heavily weighted or pulled in one direction

Cognitive and mental process function 

  • Difficulty concentrating and paying attention; easily distracted 
  • Forgetfulness and short-term memory lapses 
  • Confusion, disorientation and difficulty comprehending directions or instructions 
  • Difficulty following speakers in conversations, meetings, etc., especially when there is background noise or movement 


  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sensation of being “hungover” or “seasick” 
  • Motion sickness
  • Ear pain such as a sensation of fullness in the ears 
  • Headaches  and slurred speech 
  • Sensitivity to pressure or temperature changes and wind currents

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Common Balance Problem Indicators