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Vertigo: Staying Safe When You Have Balance Problems

Introduction

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.

 

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
    This answer is correct.

    An organized, uncluttered environment can help you avoid falls. Keeping walkways both inside and outside free of toys, electrical cords, and throw rugs can reduce your risk of tripping and falling during an episode of vertigo.

  • False
    This answer is incorrect.

    An organized, uncluttered environment can help you avoid falls. Keeping walkways both inside and outside free of toys, electrical cords, and throw rugs can reduce your risk of tripping and falling during an episode of vertigo.

  •  

You should let others know about your episodes of vertigo.

  • True
    This answer is correct.

    Letting others know about your episodes of vertigo—and what they can do—will enable them to help you if they are with you during an episode.

  • False
    This answer is incorrect.

    Letting others know about your episodes of vertigo—and what they can do—will enable them to help you if they are with you during an episode.

  •  

Continue to Why?

 

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
    This answer is incorrect.

    Episodes of vertigo can cause physical harm. For example, you could lose your balance, fall, and hit your head on a coffee table edge in your home.

  • False
    This answer is correct.

    Episodes of vertigo can cause physical harm. For example, you could lose your balance, fall, and hit your head on a coffee table edge in your home.

  •  

Continue to How?

 

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.

Using a safety checklist can help you make your home environment safe.

  • Checklist for personal considerationsChecklist for personal considerations(What is a PDF document?). This list of items can help you prepare for an episode of vertigo, such as by making sure someone else knows about your vertigo and avoiding driving when having an episode.
  • Checklist for the home environmentChecklist for the home environment(What is a PDF document?). This list can help you keep your home free from clutter and obstacles that could cause you to fall during an episode of vertigo.
  • Checklist for the bathroom and kitchenChecklist for the bathroom and kitchen(What is a PDF document?). This list can help prevent injuries in the bathroom and kitchen.

Test Your Knowledge

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

  • Not using throw rugs.
    All of these answers are correct.

    Not using throw rugs, keeping a light on at night, and keeping your sidewalk clear all can make your environment safer if you have vertigo. All answers are correct.

  • Keeping a light on at night.
    All of these answers are correct.

    Not using throw rugs, keeping a light on at night, and keeping your sidewalk clear all can make your environment safer if you have vertigo. All answers are correct.

  • Keeping your sidewalk clear.
    All of these answers are correct.

    Not using throw rugs, keeping a light on at night, and keeping your sidewalk clear all can make your environment safer. All answers are correct.

  •  

A precaution you can take if you have vertigo is:

Continue to Where?

 

Whether your vertigo is infrequent and mild or frequent and severe, it does have an impact on your life. These safety precautions 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.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Barrie J. Hurwitz, MD - Neurology
Last Revised April 12, 2012

Last Revised: April 12, 2012

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