Balance is something most of us take for granted.

From a young child beginning to stand and then take his first steps, our sense of balance quickly improves until we can walk and run around automatically without falling over and without thinking about it.

That is until we lose it. About 40% of people in the UK over the age of 40 experience symptoms of dizziness and/or imbalance at some time. Symptoms of vertigo can be disabling.

Many of us may have had the odd moment when we felt dizzy or suffered from motion sickness. This can momentarily make us lose our ability to balance.

Dizziness and vertigo

Normally it lasts just a few seconds before righting itself. But for many people who suffer from a problem with their balance this largely invisible condition causes debilitating symptoms.

It can come on gradually or suddenly, but these bouts of dizziness, vertigo and nausea can make many routine tasks virtually impossible.

Try imagining how to focus on something when everything around you appears to be spinning. For those living with a vestibular condition, everyday life becomes a progressively difficult obstacle course.

That’s why Balance Awareness Week was created. It is always held in September and this year runs from September 17 to September 23.

Ménière’s Society

The vestibular system in our ears is responsible for maintaining balance and posture. The body’s balance system works by co-ordinating information in the brain for the three senses used for balance. These are the eyes, the balance organ in the inner ear and the body’s internal sense of balance.

When someone suffers from dizziness it means the brain has not been able to co-ordinate the information from the balance senses properly.

The Ménière’s Society, which backs Balance Awareness Week, is the only registered charity in the UK dedicated solely to supporting people with vestibular (inner ear) disorders causing dizziness and imbalance. 

“Our hope is that an increase in awareness will help reduce misunderstandings and improve support systems for those with a vestibular disorder,” the Ménière’s Society says.

Read more about the Ménière’s Society and Balance Awareness Week here.