If a police officer pulls you over on suspicion that you have too much alcohol in your system, the officer may ask you to perform a field sobriety test like a walk and turn test. These tests require you to have good balance to pass them. While alcohol consumption can impair your balance, you may suffer balance problems due to other reasons.
Existing health problems could make you fail a balance test even if you are not under the influence of alcohol. You may have to be ready to explain your health issues to an officer if the officer wants to give you a sobriety test. Healthgrades explains the various conditions that could cause problems with your balance.
Inner ear disorders
Many people have balance problems because of issues with their inner ear. The inner ear, called the vestibular system, detects your head and body movements and your spatial position. It then transmits this information to your brain. In the event your vestibular system fails to function properly, you can feel dizzy, lightheaded, or unsteady on your feet.
Joint and muscle problems
When your brain can sense the position and actions of your limbs and your trunk, your body knows where to put your arms and legs where you want. However, degenerative disorders or injuries may impair your body’s ability to move about. Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and arthritis are a few disorders that can hamper your balance.
You do not need a serious degenerative disease to harm your balance, though. Ordinary fatigue in your joints and muscles may make it hard to keep steady while walking or standing. It may only take a long day at work for you to feel tired enough to have issues moving your body.
Nervous system problems
If you have any kind of a disruption with your nervous system, you could experience problems keeping a steady balance. You might have sustained an injury in a car accident that injured your spinal cord or your peripheral nerves. Head injuries, peripheral neuropathies and strokes may also damage your nervous system and impair your ability to maintain balance.
Strong feelings of stress and anxiety may be enough to make you fail a balance test. Stress can interfere with the ability of your brain to process your senses, which can decrease your automatic balance reflexes. A lot of anxiety can result in hyperventilation, which lowers the oxygen flow to your brain and may create dizziness.