Lifestyle & Management
Ask your healthcare professional to evaluate you for fall risk and to recommend dietary changes, exercises, and mobility aids to improve your stability and lower your risk of falling.
Tips to Prevent Loss of Balance
- Sit or lie down right away if you feel dizzy.
- During a vertigo attack:
- Avoid things that will make the sensations worse.
- Move slowly and try not to change the position of your head.
- Rest your eyes by staying away from bright lights and television.
- Don’t try to read.
- Rest as much as you can and don’t try to go back to your regular activities before you are ready.
- Don’t smoke.
- Avoid exposure to things that may congest your sinuses.
- Try to manage your stress and anxiety levels. Medications, yoga, meditation, or psychotherapy are all effective. Note that some medications run the risk of making balance worse, such as some anti-anxiety medications.
Researchers have found that the following exercise routines and strategies can improve your balance and reduce the risk of falling:
- Tai Chi, dance, postural awareness, or yoga programs
- Gait training (programs to improve the way you walk)
- Strengthening and resistance exercises, including aerobic and resistance training in water.
- Vestibular rehabilitation therapy. This is a special program of exercises and activities designed to retrain your body and brain to work together to improve balance.
Balance training can be done throughout the day. Talk with your health care professional about the safety of the following activities:
- Walking backward
- Heel-to-toe walking
- Standing on one foot and then the other for several seconds (initially using gentle support).
Balance is like any other motor skill: it requires practice in a safe environment.
As your strength and mobility improve, you will be able to be more independent. You need to do the tasks that you can to continue to improve.
Some changes in your diet may help, depending on your diagnosis. Generally, it is important to eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of fluids, and avoid too much alcohol.
Having enough vitamin D in your body is important because low levels of vitamin D are related to balance problems, falling down, and breaking bones. Your healthcare provider can check the level of vitamin D in your body with a blood test
Other Non-Drug Therapies
Assistive devices to help with walking (walking aids)
Assistive devices can help you live safely and independently, if you use them correctly. Physical therapists can help you choose an assistive device or walking aid, depending on your balance problem and health status. These range from a cane to walkers and wheelchairs. Your walking aid must be carefully matched to your needs.
Balance problems increase the risks of falls and broken bones. Trained visiting nurses or occupational therapists can check to make sure that your home is as safe as possible. They often recommend changes like:
- Better lighting
- Removing hazards like loose rugs, electrical wires, and unstable furniture
- Placing handrails in hallways, bathrooms, and on stairs
Other lifestyle approaches to reduce falls include:
- Using proper footwear (well-fitting walking shoes with low or no heels, thin firm soles, and heel supports)
- Making adjustments to your medications if recommended by your healthcare provider
If you have a chronic balance problem, it can affect all aspects of your life:
- social and family relationships
- performance at work
- ability to do tasks at home
- ability to relax
Support groups are good sources of information and tips for coping. Search online or ask your healthcare provider to recommend a support group in your area if you would like to share your experiences and meet others who are working on the same challenges in their lives.
Last Updated January 2023
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