Frequent Falling: 10 Medical Causes

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All jokes aside- frequent falling is a serious problem, and not always connected to old age.  For example, vitamin B12 deficiency or one of several other conditions may be to blame for balance disorders. Here are some tips for preventing falls.


1) Vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 is a crucial nutrient for neurological health, and a shortage of vitamin B12 in the blood (vitamin B12 deficiency) can cause nerve cell damage and destruction, resulting in ailments like chronic pain, numbness, vision problems, tremors, and many others related to your nervous system.

One such disorder is gait ataxia, or unsteady gait.  Damage to the myelin sheath, which protects your nerve cells, can result in movement disorders, including difficulty controlling your leg muscles while walking, running, jumping, or standing on one leg.

Symptoms of gait ataxia include:

  • Frequent falling
  • Difficulty standing on one leg
  • Painful numbness and tingling in arms, legs, and mouth
  • Shaky or jerky movements in legs and arms, “clumsiness”
  • Seizures, trembling
  • Muscular feebleness in the legs and arms
  • Poor motor skills
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Blurred vision, double vision, or shaky eye movements

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2) Obesity

Recently, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society released a report stating that elderly individuals who suffer from morbid obesity are more at risk for frequent falling than frail senior citizens.  While feeble muscles may account for a certain amount of falling in thinner seniors, difficulty maintaining balance accounts for significantly more falling among heavy elderly citizens.

3) Diabetes

Just as pernicious anemia, a cause of vitamin B12 deficiency, can cause nerve damage, diabetes can also create neuropathic symptoms that make it difficult to walk without falling.

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4) Antidepressants

Alzheimer’s disease patients who take antidepressants are at a significantly high risk of stumbling frequently, compared to dementia patients who don’t receive them, according to this report on frequent falling.

5) Mixing meds

Sometimes, combining certain medications can cause you to lose balance and trip more often than usual.  If you notice yourself falling frequently recently, then alert your pharmacist or doctor.

6) Middle ear disorders

The vestibular system of your inner ear and brain controls balance and spatial awareness.  Likewise, a vestibular disorder can cause processing problems resulting in dizziness, light-headedness, and frequent falling.

Examples of vestibular disorders are Meniere’s disease, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV, labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis.


7) Lumbar spinal stenosis

Sometimes, a slipped disc or arthritis can impair the motor nerves of your spine, causing muscular weakness in your legs, which can in turn make it difficult to walk.

8) Cervical myelopathy

Similar to lumbar spinal stenosis, cervical myelopathy can occur with a slipped disk or arthritis in the neck.  Symptoms include loss of balance and frequent falling, but may not include neck pain.

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9) Joint problems

It’s worth noting the obvious- instabilities of the joints in your hips, knees, or ankles, are common causes of falling.

10) Brain injury

Balance disorders sometimes indicate damage to the brain, whether from a concussion or illness.  Symptoms of brain injury may include dizziness, sudden headaches, and memory problems.


Please tell us…

Do you think you fall more frequently than is considered normal? If so, have you tested for vitamin B12 deficiency?

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

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Read more about B12 and your nerves

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Movement Disorders- How They Relate

Balance your B12, Balance your Nerves

Born with it: Clumsiness and Two Left Feet from Dyspraxia


B12 and Gait Ataxia

Obesity tied to older adults’ risk of falls: study

Antidepressants for dementia patients linked to frequent falling

Understanding Vestibular Disorders

Frequent Falls: what they mean and what to do


Brainsonic, Melissa O’Donohue, Keoni Cabral