Dizziness and Balance Problems in Children

ron looking in little kid earAccording to an article in Science Daily, (Dizziness) more than 1 in 20 children between the ages of 3 and 17 have dizziness and balance problems. The percent of children with dizziness with problems increases with age: 4.1% in children 3-5; 3.6% of children 6-8; 6% of children 12-14 and 7.5% of children 15-17. Girls have a higher prevalence of dizziness than boys. Non-Hispanic white children have a higher rate of dizziness than Hispanic children or non-Hispanic black children.

 

Parents need to be vigilant

 

Since the dizziness and balance problems are so common, parents need to be vigilant. If a child is demonstrating dizziness or imbalance, parents should take them to see a health care provider.

In 2012, a Child Balance Survey was added to the National Health Interview Survey. The results of surveys for 11,00 0 children were analyzed. For children with balance and dizziness problems, 46% of parents reported that the children had poor coordination,35.1% reported that children were lightheaded, 30.9% reported balance issues, 29% reported vertigo, 25% reported frequent falls, and 8.5% reported other problems. 36% were seen by health care providers and 29% received treatment.

Only 1/3 of parents of children diagnosed with balance or dizziness problems reported receiving a diagnosis of some other underlying condition. Of children with more serious symptoms, almost 60% received a diagnosis of an underlying condition.

Children with a diagnosis of hearing loss were likely to have dizziness or balance problems. Other risk factors associated with dizziness and balance problems were problems walking, crawling or running, headaches, certain developmental delays, recent seizures and anemia.

 

Children with hearing loss

 

Since there is an increased risk factor for dizziness and balance problems for children with hearing loss, parents and professionals need to be attentive to this. Audiologists, otolaryngologists and parents should extensively interview families and children on a regular basis (not just at diagnosis) to determine if any symptoms are present. When working with young children we need to ask in detail about motor development. Children who are delayed walkers may be having balance issues which should be explored.

The important thing to remember is that balance issues are treatable. With the assistance of audiologists who work in this area and the occupational therapists who do excellent therapy in this area many symptoms can be reversed. But in order to address the problem it has to be diagnosed.

About Jane Madell

Jane Madell has a consulting practice in pediatric audiology. She is an audiologist, speech-language pathologist, and LSLS auditory verbal therapist, with a BA from Emerson College and an MA and PhD from the University of Wisconsin. Her 45+ years experience ranges from Deaf Nursery programs to positions at the League for the Hard of Hearing (Director), Long Island College Hospital, Downstate Medical Center, Beth Israel Medical Center/New York Eye and Ear Infirmary as director of the Hearing and Learning Center and Cochlear Implant Center. Jane has taught at the University of Tennessee, Columbia University, Downstate Medical School, and Albert Einstein Medical School, published 5 books, and written numerous books chapters and journal articles, and is a well known international lecturer.

1 Comment

  1. Hi Jane,

    Thank you for the information. If you would be so kind please can you confirm how this data was arrived at and how it relates to normative data and which equipment was used to arrive at this figure? Whilst I understand there would be a percentage of children feeling occasionally dizzy I am somewhat concerned about the high percentages suggested.

    As I understand it the balance system is compensatory hence in the vast majority of cases would this be resolved by the body taking into account children grow continuously and there are factors like lack of sleep, exposure to screens, reduced walking time, air pollution and diet to name but a few to take into consideration?

    Please bear in mind I am coming from a technical stand point only with a little common sense thrown in. Just that the figures seem higher than I would expect.

    Best Regards

    Mark

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