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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.

How can you make your environment safer?

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.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Karin M. Lindholm, DO - Neurology
Current as of June 4, 2014

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