A recent study suggests that after age 40, dizziness makes you 12 times more likely to suffer serious injury from a fall. About 69 million Americans over age 40 have some form of inner-ear dysfunction or another, that predisposes dizziness and makes them up to 12 times more likely to suffer a serious fall.
“More than 22 million of those people are unaware of their risk, mostly because they’ve had no previous incidents of dizziness or sudden falls”, said Johns Hopkins researchers who surveyed more than 5,000 men and women over age 40. In this study the authors find that compared to those with a healthy sense of balance, those with an inner-ear dysfunction who had experienced no symptoms as of yet, were actually three times more likely to suffer a potentially fatal fall than other people, while those who actually have experienced symptoms had a 12-fold greater risk of a fatal fall.
The survey additionally noted that 85 percent of those over age 80 already had a balance problem and people with diabetes were 70 percent more likely to suffer imbalance than those without diabetes. The findings were so significant they were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
So why is all this important? Because vestibular imbalances need to be taken extremely seriously, because they can unwittingly lead to a fatal fall, or leave you disabled from an unintentional injury, possibly associated with long hospital stays and significant loss in quality of life.
The CDC, (Centers for Disease), reports that accidental falls are a leading cause of death and injury among the elderly. Each year in the United States, falls kill about 13,000 seniors and result in more than 1.5 million visits to hospital emergency rooms.
“Our survey shows that balance testing needs to be part of basic primary care, and that all physicians need to be monitoring and screening their patients for vestibular dysfunction so that we can take preventive measures to guard against falling,” was the conclusion drawn by the researchers. Our office is compliant in this regard, offering computerized dynamic posturography, which assesses stability and thus risk of fall in seconds. We offer this service free as a community service, which according to this study, is invaluable no matter your age or your perceived sense of balance.