Michael Caampued, M.D., a municipal health officer in the Department of Health and Polillo Local Government Unit, was 19 years old when his world spun out of control. He was working out on a treadmill, and “…when I attempted to stop, the surroundings kept moving. At that time, I thought I was only hypoglycemic or something.” Days before the incident at the gym, he was already hearing a repetitive dial tone-like sound in his right ear. Dr. Caampued continues, “After several episodes of vomiting and later being sent to the hospital, I knew it was something else.” That something else turned out to be a balance disorder.
The balance system
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), a balance disorder is a condition that makes you feel unsteady or dizzy, as if you are moving, spinning, or floating, even though you are standing still or lying down. Dr. Caampued describes it as, “During [a] vertigo attack, when my eyes are open, my vision [is] spinning, but when I close them, I [am] the one spinning.” Balance disorders can be caused by certain health conditions, medications, or a problem in the inner ear or brain.
“Our ear is one of the organs that maintain our balance,” explains Ernest Manas, M.D., ears, nose and throat specialist and a head and neck surgeon in Asian Hospital and Medical Center. Certain parts of the inner ear—the labyrinth, semicircular canals and cochlea, all of which form the vestibular system—work together to keep us balanced and steady. The brain, eyes and joints also help keep our balance and posture. According to Dr. Manas, the brain receives, coordinates and integrates information from the ears, eyes and joints.
The NIDCD enumerates the following symptoms of balance disorders: