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Vertigo: Staying Safe When You Have Balance Problems


What is an Actionset?

Many people experience the spinning sensation of vertigo. The loss of balance it causes puts you at risk for falling and can also affect your quality of life if your fear of falling leads to a less active lifestyle.

Vertigo may be a lifelong symptom of conditions such as Ménière's disease or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). But if you have vertigo, you can reduce your risk of injury and remain active by taking personal precautions and making your home environment safe.

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Adding grab bars near the bathtub and toilet, using nonskid mats, and using night-lights can make your home safer and help prevent falls. Organizing your home so that walkways are free of clutter and making sure that furniture fits your build can also help. Letting others know that you have episodes of vertigo will help them know how to help you if they are with you during an attack.

Test Your Knowledge

An organized, uncluttered home environment may prevent falls.

True
False

You should let others know about your episodes of vertigo.

True
False

If you experience ongoing bouts of vertigo, no matter what the cause, you have a greater risk of falling and hurting yourself.

Making changes in your environment and lifestyle will help get rid of some of the risks involved with vertigo. Keeping your home free of protruding and sharp objects, having support close by in case of a fall, and letting others know of your condition can help you avoid injury.

Keeping your home environment organized will also give you increased confidence in moving around within your home.

Test Your Knowledge

Episodes of vertigo cause no harm outside of the spinning sensation.

True
False

You can make your home safer:

  • Do not use throw rugs. Use nonskid mats.
  • Install grab bars near the bathtub and toilet.
  • Use night-lights.
  • Keep floors dry to prevent slipping.
  • Store household items on low shelves to eliminate the need to climb or reach high. If climbing is essential, use a step stool with handrails.
  • Keep driveways, sidewalks, and interior walkways clear of anything that might cause you to trip.

Personal tips that can help prevent injury during an episode of vertigo:

  • Avoid driving.
  • Avoid working at heights.
  • Wear shoes with low heels and nonslip soles.
  • Keep your shoes tied.
  • Alert family and friends to your condition and how they can help during an attack of vertigo.
  • Know whether medicines you take can affect your sense of balance.

Print out the following safety checklists, write the date on each one, and check all items that you can. Do this once a month to see how you are progressing with making your home environment safe. Try to get all items checked.

Test Your Knowledge

A precaution you can take to make your environment safe if you have vertigo is:

Not using throw rugs.
Keeping a light on at night.
Keeping your sidewalk clear.

A precaution you can take if you have vertigo is:

Understanding the side effects of your medicines and whether they affect your balance.
Wearing socks with no shoes in the house.

Whether your vertigo is infrequent and mild or frequent and severe, it does have an impact on your life. These safety precautions and checklists will help make living with vertigo safer.

Depending on what is causing your vertigo, there may be steps you can take to reduce your bouts of vertigo. Talk to your doctor about a plan that fits your needs.

More information about vertigo can be found in the following topics:

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerBarrie J. Hurwitz, MD - Neurology
Last RevisedApril 12, 2012

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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