Balance Awareness Week Sheds Light on Prevalent Balance Issues Impacting 37 Million U.S. Adults

balance awareness week
September 15, 2023

ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND – The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is calling upon the public to expand their understanding of balance disorders as nearly 16% of American adults grapple with these issues. Balance Awareness Week, running from September 17 to September 23, 2023, serves as a pivotal opportunity for individuals to learn about conditions like dizziness, vertigo, and other balance-related challenges.

These issues can impede daily activities, including driving, working, and socializing, and heighten the risk of falls, a leading cause of injuries and hospitalizations, particularly among older adults.

“Everyone experiences dizziness occasionally, but for some people, dizziness, vertigo, and other symptoms may persist—creating a significant quality-of-life issue as well as a safety hazard. Balance problems can affect our ability to drive, work, socialize, and participate in just about any daily activity. Also, they put people at greater risk of falls, a leading cause of injury, hospitalization, and even death in older adults.”

Robert Augustine, PhD, CCC-SLP, 2023 ASHA President

Established in 1997 by the Vestibular Disorders Association (VeDA), Balance Awareness Week unites organizations such as ASHA to raise awareness about balance disorders and encourage individuals to seek help when confronted with these challenges.

Balance Issues: Symptoms and Root Causes

Maintaining balance involves complex coordination among the brain, eyes, inner ear (vestibular system), and sensory systems throughout the body. Disruptions in any of these elements can lead to vertigo, dizziness, or instability. Additionally, certain medications may contribute to these symptoms, underlining the importance of discussing these concerns with a primary care physician.

Addressing hearing loss plays a pivotal role in mitigating the risk of balance problems in the adult population. Shockingly, although half of U.S. adults aged 75 and older experience disabling hearing loss, fewer than one in three individuals over 70 who could benefit from hearing aids have ever explored this option.

Assessment and Intervention

Anyone experiencing symptoms such as blurred vision, sudden hearing loss, falls or problems walking, or weakness in the arms and legs should see a doctor immediately. Based on symptoms, a physician may refer a person for balance testing by an audiologist.

The purpose of balance testing is to evaluate a person’s eyes, vestibular system, and sensory systems—to identify the root cause of a person’s balance problems. Based on this information, an audiologist can make recommendations for treatment.

Sometimes, balance problems require surgery or medication. Some people benefit from balance treatment called vestibular rehabilitation, an individualized balance-retraining exercise program. The goals are to decrease dizziness and to improve balance, functional activities, and quality of life. Many audiologists can provide this training. Other clinicians such as physical therapists and occupational therapists are trained to provide more extensive rehabilitation as well as fall-risk prevention.

Learn more about balance disorders and treatment from ASHA and VeDA.


About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 228,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology assistants; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) identify, assess, and treat speech, language, and swallowing disorders.


Source: ASHA

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