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Many conditions can cause you to have problems with your balance, dizziness, or changing position. This can be caused by:
Other conditions can also cause problems with your balance – for example, low blood pressure or blood sugar, problems with your ears, or problems with your nervous system.
Your balance may be affected by:
This can lead to:
Often, problems with balance can be improved by sitting or lying down. They may also get better over time.
Poor balance can cause problems with walking, exercise, and certain day-to-day tasks. It may increase your risk of falling and injuring yourself. However, you can learn exercises and skills which can help you to keep your balance and reduce the risk of falling. You may also be able to adjust how you do activities to make balance issues less likely.
PoTS (Postural Tachycardia Syndrome) is a specific balance and posture disorder, caused by problems with the nervous system. Because of damage to the autonomic nervous system (the part of your nervous system responsible for unconscious movement and maintaining your body’s environment), blood doesn’t flow properly, and gathers in the lower half of the body when you stand up or change position suddenly.
This means that the heart has to beat faster to try and push the blood back upwards into the head and chest. It may also mean that, for a time, your brain struggles to get enough blood flow.
PoTS happens when you stand up or sit up sharply. Symptoms include:
PoTS is commonly caused by neurological and immunological problems like ME/CFS, Long Covid, lupus, stroke, or brain injury. It can also happen on its own.
You can find out more about PoTS and how to manage it through PoTS UK, a charity which offers help and support to people with PoTS.
Long Covid has turned Tracey’s life upside down and left her with a series of health conditions that means she needs a half-hour rest after even the lightest of activity.
“I’ve had to adjust to big changes physically and mentally,” says Tracey.
For her, Long Covid means constant fatigue, what she describes as brain fog and muscle ache. She also has a lung condition for which she has to use an inhaler and is now on beta blockers after being diagnosed with PoTS – postural tachycardia syndrome, which is an abnormal increase in her heart rate after sitting up or standing.
“Many people are not getting any help and support from family and friends because many of the symptoms of Long Covid are not visible. More research will improve diagnosis and treatment and help raise more awareness of this chronic illness.”
Read full story
If your blood pressure is low, you may be able to reduce balance problems by:
If you have high blood pressure, this can also affect your balance. If this is the case, try to lower your salt intake if possible, exercise regularly, and take any medication you are prescribed to reduce blood pressure (such as statins).
Balance problems caused by an underlying condition, such as stroke, can often improve when the condition itself is treated or begins to heal.
If you cannot treat your balance problems directly, there are still steps you can take to make falls and dizziness less likely:
If you have severe balance issues, you may need to talk to your health professional about whether it is safe for you to drive or operate other heavy machinery.
There are many types of physical aid that you can use to make falls less likely when you have balance problems: handrails, walking sticks or canes, walking frames, handles to help you get out of the bath, or shower seats so you don’t have to stand.
There are also types of furniture which you can choose which, while they aren’t necessarily “disability aids”, can make balance easier, especially when getting up. Look for chairs with armrests which you can use to support yourself while standing, and desks or tables which you can comfortably lean on if necessary.
You can find support for your balance issues from friends and family, but also through health professionals. Depending on the cause of your balance issues, you may get support through occupational therapy or physiotherapy.
You can make sure people with chest, heart or stroke in conditions Scotland get the support they need after returning home from hospital.
If you – or someone you know – needs help right now, we’re here for you.
Read our Essential Guides for more information.
NHS Inform has some suggested strength and balance exercises which may help you.
View this page
Visit our Services page to find out more about the support that’s available for you.