DARIEN, Conn. – Falls are one of the leading causes of deaths for people over 65, and Norwalk Dr. Robert Weiss recently sat down with a group of local senior men to discuss balance and how they can prevent dizziness problems.
Weiss is a otolaryngologist with the Connecticut Center for Advanced ENT Care in Norwalk. During a meeting of ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out) in Darien, he addressed issues related to dizziness.
“Figuring out balance, figuring out dizziness is not easy,” he said. Unlike vision or hearing problems, which can be easier to test and diagnose, many balance issues are caused by inner ear problems. “It’s much more difficult to test that, and you have to do it in some indirect ways.”
Among the tests used to diagnose inner ear problems is the Videonystagmography test, which tracks eye movements to tell whether there is an inner ear problem.
Weiss said the VNG test is generally conducted by specialists such as ear, nose and throat doctors, and can reveal information that won’t be found on standard tests such as MRIs and CAT scans. He said is particularly important for seniors who have fallen before.
“Anybody who’s fallen once is at the risk of falling again. You really need a professional evaluation of your balance system.”
Another major cause of balance problems can be the interaction of different medications. Many seniors may see several different doctors, who may not communicate and know what each is prescribing.
“You really want to review your medications with your doctors, especially if you’re on more than four medications. Review the drug interactions and the dosages, and see if one or two can be eliminated.”
Other causes of balance issues can be crystals in the inner ear coming loose, diabetes and sedentary lifestyles. He said staying active can be vital to combating dizziness and balance issues.
“The more active you can stay, the more you can train your muscles, train your brain, keep the coordination going, the better off your balance is going to be.”
The ROMEO club is a group of older men who meet once or twice a month and welcome guests to talk about various topics. Mike Davis, one of the heads of the local ROMEO chapter, said Weiss was picked because balance is of particular importance to the senior age group.
“I thought his presentation was excellent. It was one of the better ones we’ve had,” Davis said.