Is Your Child Having An Inner Ear Balance Problem?

inner ear balance problem

It may surprise you that adults are not the only ones with inner ear balance issues. Children as well can be victims. If you see a child experience dizziness, this may be a sign that he/she is having a challenge with the inner ear.

15% of children experience this condition at a certain point in their childhood. The numbers shoot up to 50% for those children diagnosed with ear problems. For a child unable to adequately communicate his feelings, it may be difficult to point out dizziness or imbalance as part of his motor challenges. However, there are a few signs that can tell that inner ear balance issues are evident in a child.

  • Delayed head control – Children are often labelled as having heads that are bigger than what their bodies can handle. Those more than 9 months often experience delayed sitting, and those more than 18 months experience delayed walking.
  • Inability to stand on one foot – A toddler of 2 ½ years should stand on one foot for at least 1 second. A child of 5 years should do so for at least 10 seconds.
  • Taking too long to learn how to ride a bike without training wheels – In fact, some are totally unable to ride without them.
  • Brief sharp attacks – The child suddenly stops what he/she was doing and clings to his parent or an object.
  • Quick and jumpy movement of the eye – Twitching back and forth of the eye (also called nystagmus)

What are some of the inner ear problems that cause this dizziness?

Balance of the body is achieved by the combined efforts of various parts of our sensory system. The eye is a major contributor, and enables us to determine our position in space and giving us the ability to process where and how to move. The sensory nerves communicate a varied number of messages to the brain concerning body movement. The ear is also a great contributor. Inside it lays sensors that detect our position in relation to gravity.

Vertigo is a false sense that the surrounding is spinning. With an inner ear anomaly, the signals sent to the brain are not consistent with what the eyes and senses transmit, thus the spinning effect.  Two of the major causes of vertigo brought about by ear problems involve:

  • Infection – Vestibular neuritis, a vestibular nerve viral infection can cause constant and intense vertigo.
  • Meniere’s disease – Excessive buildup of liquid content in the inner ear causes Meniere’s disease. This disease causes the child to experience vertigo for as long as several hours. The condition is accompanied by ringing ears and fluctuation hearing impairments.

How can this problem be detected and treated?

The scope for inner ear balance treatment is larger and touches more than just the ear. Since balance is a function that incorporates the ear, eye and your sensory organs, the doctor will have to do tests on a larger scale.

  • Eye movement testing – the doctor asks you to track a moving object with your eye and observes your eye motion.
  • Head movement tests – A head movement test called a Dix-Hallpike maneuver is implemented if he suspects the vertigo to be caused by benign paroxysmal positioning.
  • Posturography – This is one of the most effective of tests, as it determines the part of your balance system that may be the actual cause.

A thorough test will give the doctor a clear path to treat the exact condition causing the vertigo. Talk to us today if you need help with inner ear problems in children.