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Migraines & Headaches Health Center

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Vertigo: Senses That Help Your Balance and Position - Topic Overview

Your brain uses the input from four sensory systems to help maintain balance and position in relation to your surroundings.

  • Vision provides information about your position and motion in relationship to the rest of the world. This is an important part of the balance mechanism. It often overrides information from the other balance-sensing systems.
  • Sensory nerves in the joints allow the brain to keep track of the position of the legs, arms, and trunk. Your body is then automatically able to make tiny changes in posture that help maintain balance. (This is called proprioception.)
  • Skin pressure sensation provides information about position and motion in relationship to gravity.
  • A portion of the inner ear, called the labyrinth, which includes the semicircular canals, contains specialized cells. They detect motion and changes in position.

If there is a problem with any of the above systems, you will probably feel dizzy (unsteady). Or you may have vertigo (spinning) or poor balance.

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There it is again -- that excruciating pain in your head from a migraine. The pain alone is enough to stop you from carrying on your daily activities. But even before the headache begins, you notice strange symptoms such as dizziness, ringing in your ears, seeing zigzag lines, and being sensitive to light. No doubt about it -- you have a painful, debilitating headache. But what makes this headache a migraine? And what does it mean to have a migraine with aura? How is this different from other h...

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    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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