A study reveals that our sense of balance declines after age 40, so if life begins at 40, so does vertigo a year or so after.  

A team of experts at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear discovered that upon reaching 40 years of age, a person’s ability to detect motion goes on a steady decline.  This was reported by Frontiers in Neurology.

According to Jenks Vestibular Physiology Director Daniel M. Merfeld, vestibular functions generally deteriorate among humans past the age of 40 and every 10 years thereafter, it becomes twice as worse.  Merfeld, an expert in Otolaryngology, also teaches at Harvard Medical School.

More than 50 percent of people around the world will seek medical attention due to a dysfunctional vestibular system.  Symptoms include vertigo, light headedness, poor balance, and impaired vision.  A person with a healthy vestibular system is able to detect movement and is sensitive to spatial orientation.  This system is found in the inner ear.

Those suffering from this disability are prone to accidents involving falls.

The team studied more than a hundred healthy people, administering on them tests involving balance and movement.  The objective was to confirm if age or sex has an impact on vestibular health and thresholds.  A vestibular threshold is the slightest possible movement applied which a person can properly detect.  The age of subjects was from late teens to the elderly, the oldest being 80 years of age.  

Initial findings reveal that sex doesn’t have any impact on vestibular thresholds but age does.  Subjects over 40 had higher vestibular thresholds.

Another finding reveals that subjects with the highest thresholds were unable to finish prescribed trials involving balance.

The team believes that an unhealthy vestibular system could be the cause of more than 150,000 yearly deaths in the US – statistics culled from an earlier study.  If this was true, then vestibular dysfunction ranks third among the top killers in the US.  The top two killers are serious heart ailments and cancer.

With this new info, the team hopes to increase awareness about vestibular health, suggesting that experts involved in physical therapy  develop exercise routines and gadgets that could trigger improvements in thresholds and eventually lessen the incidence of accidents involving balance.

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