What to Ask: Balance Problems

Having good balance means being able to control and maintain your body’s position comfortably—whether you are walking, climbing stairs, standing or even sitting still. The terms “balance problems” or “balance disorders” refer to a range of conditions with many different causes but similar sensations—the feeling that you’ve lost your balance or that your sense of up and down is gone.

Click on each of the topics below to display questions you can ask your healthcare provider about balance problems. 

Questions about Dizziness

Dizziness describes a variety of unpleasant sensations that often interfere with balance and walking. It is a common complaint of people over age 65. Dizziness can have many different causes that can be difficult to diagnose.

The following are questions you can ask your healthcare provider about dizziness.

  1. Could any of my medicines be making me dizzy?
  2. I feel more steady when I use a cane. Could you check this cane and tell me if it is the proper height for me? Should I see a physical therapist?
  3. Since I have been told I have Meniere’s disease, should I see a dietician to learn how to maintain a low salt diet?
  4. I feel lightheaded or dizzy when I stand up. Would you check my sitting and standing blood pressures?
  5. When I move my head or roll over in bed I feel as if the room is spinning. Why is this?
  6. Does the buzzing/ringing in my ears have anything to do with my feeling dizzy?
  7. My balance has been unsteady, and I have the feeling of the room spinning since I had a recent bad cold. Why is this? Is it related to having the cold?
  8. My hearing is not as good as it used to be. Do I have wax in my ears? Could wax buildup be making me feel lightheaded or dizzy?
  9. Could drinking alcohol make me dizzy, or make my dizziness worse?
  10. I’ve been told to drink more liquids. Would this help the dizziness when I stand up?
  11. Can allergies cause lightheadedness or dizziness?
  12. I sometimes feel faint and dizzy after I have passed urine. Why is this? What can I do about this?
  13. I sometimes feel faint and dizzy after I have emptied my bowels. Why does this happen? What can I do about this?
  14. Sometimes when I feel really anxious I end up feeling faint and dizzy. Why does this happen?
  15. I sometimes feel my heart skip beats or beat fast. Could abnormal heart rhythm be causing my lightheadedness or dizziness?
  16. My vision has gotten much worse recently. Could this be making me lightheaded or dizzy?
  17. I felt like the room was spinning recently and at the same time part of my face felt numb. Why is this?

Questions about Balance and Walking

Problems with walking increase with age and are commonly associated with falls and disability in older adults. At least 20% of older adults living in the community have problems with walking. This increases to approximately 50% in adults 85 years old and older. Most of these problems are associated with underlying diseases, especially severe diseases.

The following are questions you can ask your healthcare provider about walking problems.

  1. As I get older, what will be the expected changes in my walking?
  2. Is it normal for my walking speed to slow down?
  3. When should I ask my doctor to do a test for my walking problems?
  4. Are there tests to check my steadiness and walking?
  5. The doctor ordered a walker for me. Do I really need to use it?
  6. When I have arthritis pain in my back and knee, should I limit my activities?
  7. Will therapy help with my walking problems?
  8. Will therapy help my balance problem?