Causes of Vertigo in the Elderly

Everyone accepts that as we age the body begins breaking down and not functioning like it once did. And balance is one of those functions that routinely breaks down. In fact, around 20-30% of all seniors will encounter dizzy spells – making it one of the most common complaints and medical concerns among elderly. With such a vast prevalence, what are the different causes of vertigo in elderly populations?

Causes of Vertigo in Elderly

Most people experience a gradual decline in inner ear function as they age. Considering the inner ear is where the vestibular system is located, the aging process itself is a cause of vertigo.

Unfortunately, this gradual decline in vestibular function also coincides with aging and weakening muscles. Specifically muscles in our core, legs, and joints which help us maintain a steady posture. As a result, elderly with dizzy symptoms are more likely to fall, as their muscles aren’t as flexible and able to correct one’s balance.

The general aging process itself, therefore, is the most common thing to lead to vertigo in elderly.

However, aging isn’t necessarily a direct cause. There are certain vestibular disorders or conditions that are more likely to develop as we age, among other causes of vertigo in elderly:

  • Aging – addressed above
  • BPPV – calcium deposits in the inner ear are more likely to develop as we age. Approximately 50% of all dizziness in elderly (age 70 or above) is caused by BPPV.
  • Bilateral Vestibular Loss – a condition characterized by constant unsteadiness which is caused by a discrepancy between what the eyes see and what our body perceives as balance. 
  • Meniere’s Disease – more prevalent in those above age 50
  • Medications – medication side effects often include dizziness and elderly are more prone because of the increased reliance on medications 
  • Sensory Loss – Sensory loss in the feet due to diabetes, B12 deficiency, cervical spondylosis, or just peripheral neuropathy may contribute to unsteadiness in the older population.

Ultimately, this doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the causes of vertigo regarding elderly patients. Listed above are the most common. However, elderly can experience any of the dozens of general causes of vertigo and dizziness, just like anyone else.

No matter who you are or how old you may be, dizziness is a puzzle. It’s caused by so many different things that it’s important to find a knowledgeable specialist that knows the vestibular system front to back.

As a team of Audiologists specializing in the vestibular system, we at the Dizzy & Vertigo Institute are well-equipped to dive into your situation and find what’s causing your dizziness, vertigo, and imbalance.

If you or someone you know struggles with dizzy-like symptoms, then please reach out to us at (310) 954-2207 or by filling out our contact form.

We look forward to helping you!

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