The Villages Health Audiology Department is your hometown resource for help with dizziness, balance & vertigo. We have partnered with the American Institute of Balance (AIB) to provide you with the most effective solutions to this area of specialized care. We can perform the following tests to determine if you are affected by balance disorders:

  • Dizziness Evaluation & Treatment
  • Balance & Fall Risk Assessment
  • Imbalance & Disequilibrium
  • Concussion (mTBI)
To schedule, give us a call: 352-320-4797


Fall Risk and Prevention

  • Every 20 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
  • 1 out of 5 falls causes a serious injury, such as a head trauma or fracture.
  • An older adult falls every second of every day. But less than half talk to their doctor about their fall.
  • More than 3 million older adults are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries each year.
  • Costs for fall injuries total over $31 billion annually. Hospital costs account for two-thirds of this total.
Many people believe that loss of balance and falls are a natural result of aging. In fact, fear of falling is the number one health concern of individuals in their later years. Below are some common myths associated with falls:

MYTH #1: Falling is something normal that happens as you get older

FACT: Falling is not a normal part of the aging process. However, as we age, certain risk factors can contribute to loss of balance and falls. Effective clinical and community interventions exist for these risk factors. Talk openly with your health care provider about fall risks and prevention today!

MYTH #2: Taking medication doesn't increase my risk of falling

FACT: Statistics show that individuals taking multiple medications have an increased risk of falling. Talk to your medical doctor about reviewing and managing your medications.

MYTH #3: If I limit my activity, I can avoid falling

FACT: Limiting physical activity results in muscle weakness which can increase your chance of falling. Muscle weakness and balance can improve across the lifespan for most individuals.  Ask your health care provider how an individualized exercise program can help!

MYTH #4: As long as I stay at home, I can avoid falling

FACT: Isolation and limited mobility are linked to symptoms of depression, which have shown to increase your risk of falling. Talk to your health care provider if you have symptoms of depression such as feeling down or alone.

MYTH #5: Using a walker or cane will make me more dependent

FACT: The use of the appropriate assistive device can improve your independence and quality of life by promoting safer walking within the home and community. This results in improved strength, balance, and endurance, all of which reduce one's fall risk significantly.

MYTH #6: I don't need to get my vision checked every year

FACT: Your vision plays a large role in maintaining your balance! It's very important to have your vision checked annually to ensure you have the appropriate eyewear prescript ion, if necessary.

MYTH #7: I don't need to talk to my family or health care provider if I'm concerned with falling. I don't want to alarm them, and I want to keep my independence

FACT: Having an open conversation with both your family and health care provider can increase safety, decrease risk of injury, and prolong your independence! A team approach can minimize fall risk and increase peace of mind for all involved!

To identify your personal fall risk profile, please take the Patient Self Quiz.

AIB Patient Self Quiz

y              N

□             □             1. Do you or your loved one suffer from any of the following conditions?

□             □             2. History of fall in the past year?

□             □             3. Vertigo and/or dizziness?

□             □             4. Poor balance?

□             □             5. Fear/anxiety of falling?

□             □             5. Difficulty walking?

□             □             6. Use of assistive device such as a cane to walk?

□             □             7. Peripheral neuropathy?

□             □             8. Vitamin D insufficiency?

□             □             9. Multiple medication prescriptions?

□             □             10. Blood Pressure and/or Cardiovascular problems?

□             □             11. Vision impairment?

□             □             12. Muscle weakness?

□             □             13. Orthopedic concerns, including arthritis or total joint replacement?

□             □             14. History of Stroke or Neurological disease (example: Parkinson's, Multiple Sclerosis)?

If you answered yes to any of the conditions above, now is the time to talk to your health care provider about preventative measures to minimize your risk of falls and injury. Your medical doctor can work closely together with a physical therapist to establish a fall prevention plan specific to your individual needs. Through proper diagnostic and therapeutic interventions, many of which are non-surgical and non-pharmaceutical, older adults can reduce their risk of falls and enjoy safer, more independent lives.



Vertigo, Imbalance, and Motion Sickness


  • Dizziness or loss of balance will affect 90 million Americans sometime during their lifetime and is the #1 complaint reported to medical providers in adults 70 years of age or older.
  • Balance-related falls account for more than one-half of accidental deaths in the elderly and cause over 300,000 hip fractures in individuals over 65 years of age
  • Inner ear disorders or ear infections can result imbalance and vertigo affecting a person’s ability to walk, roll over in bed, see or think clearly, or to read or watch television.
  • Many times, disorders of the inner ear are misdiagnosed as a more severe neurological condition such as multiple sclerosis, or as clinical depression.
  • Children can also be affected by inner ear disorders and are sometimes incorrectly diagnosed as learning disabled, dyslexic, or psychologically disturbed
  • Illness, infections, disease, head injuries and whiplash are frequent causes of imbalance, dizziness, and vertigo.
  • Inner ear disturbances account for 85% of dizzy disorders


The first is dizziness, vertigo, or motion intolerance. This condition may be caused or worsened by rapid head movement, turning too quickly, walking, or riding in a car. These symptoms can be acute or sharp attacks lasting for seconds or sometimes for several hours.

The second is a persistent sense of imbalance or unsteadiness. Some people refer to this as a loss of surefootedness.

There can be many causes of dizziness and imbalance, with the largest percentage coming from the vestibular system. The vestibular system is an organ located in the inner ear which relays information to the brain about balance and orientation of the body and head.

Balance is a complex interaction which requires input from our vestibular system, in addition to our vision and the sensation from our feet, muscles, and joints. If any one of these systems are not working properly, the patient will suffer loss of balance.

Although very common, problems with equilibrium may indicate serious health risks, or limit a person’s everyday living. The great news is that diagnostic and treatment options have become more effective and can now identify 90% of all causes of dizziness. There is now hope for many who once thought there might not be relief. With proper diagnosis, treatment techniques, and therapeutic exercises, many older adults can return to more active lives.


1. A feeling of motion, spinning or falling when moving your head quickly or changing your position? (Ex. Getting in and out of bed).

2. Uncomfortable trying to get around in the dark?

3. Walking down the grocery store aisles or through the mall is upsetting?

4. Your feet just won't go where you want them to?

5. A sense of unsteadiness? A feeling you are not surefooted?

6. A fear of falling or stumbling?

7. Looking at moving objects such as escalators or looking out the side window of a car makes you queasy?

8. Difficulty keeping your balance as you walk on different surfaces? (Ex. Tile to carpet)

9. A feeling like you are drifting or being pulled to one side when walking?

10. No one really understands how frustrating this is?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, a vestibular and equilibrium evaluation should be considered.


Vestibular Migraine


1. Migraine affects one out of every 4 females and one of every 6 males. Because it is more often seen in females, increased symptoms and severity may accompany hormonal changes e.g. menses, oral contraceptives, pregnancy, menopause etc.

2. Although quite common, migraine is classified by the American Academy of Neurology as a neurological disorder and is strongly hereditary.

3. 50% of people with migraine never receive a diagnosis, as they believe that this is “just the way we are in our family” or “doesn’t everyone et headaches?”

4. Many people believe that their headaches or other symptoms are due to food allergies from chocolate, red wine, or coffee or they have a “sinus” headache.

5. There is not be a specific “test” which diagnoses migraine, it is usually a diagnosis based on family history and pattern of symptoms.

6. According to the International Headache Society, there are 6 major categories of migraine and many variations within those divisions.

7. Many types of migraine DO NOT cause a headache at all, but instead cause, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, or eye pain and changes in vision.

8. Children, as young as one-year-old, may be have a form of vestibular migraine, called Benign Paroxysmal Vertigo of Childhood (BPV-Childhood), causing them to stagger, have dizziness-vertigo and vomiting.

9. Most people (66%) with a history of migraine, also are prone to motion sickness. Vertigo can be more upsetting and difficult for patients who experience migraine.


1. Discuss this with your physician or health care practitioner. He or she may recommend medications or managing symptoms through changes in diet, lifestyle, or activities.

2. In some cases, your health care practitioner may refer you, if you are a female, to your ob-gyn to check status of hormone levels, or to a neurologist for further consultation.

3. Maintain a daily diary to look for specific triggers, e.g. food, activities etc.

4. People with migraine tend to do better if they keep to a regular schedule of sleep, eating meals and stress management. So, if you are traveling or away from home, be mindful that disruption of your regular schedule may be a trigger.

  The Good News…

1. If you have experienced dizziness or vertigo because of vestibular migraine, help may be in the form of vestibular rehabilitation, medication, management of lifestyle triggers and monitoring of hormonal status.

2. New advances in understanding the causes and best treatments for the many forms of migraine are being published every year.

3. Understanding your specific triggers, will help you avoid those things, and keep you on track to having more good days.


Migraine Research Foundation:

National Headache Foundation:

Association of Migraine Disorders:

More Resources