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How Hearing Impacts Balance
Your ears do far more than perceive sounds. You may not be aware that your ears, the inner ear especially, are essential for balance. Most balance issues are caused by issues that disrupt the signals along the nerves from your ears to your brain.
Fortunately, the common causes of losing balance are well documented, and treatment is available. However, ear-related issues like tinnitus can make your issues worse because they affect your hearing. However, your audiologist can assist with diagnosing and treatment of hearing loss.
Common Causes of Imbalance
Your balance can be knocked by certain specific disorders with accompanying symptoms. Simple dizziness is a common cause of disruption to balance, caused by numerous things like low blood sugar. But your balance can also be disrupted by inner ear disorders. Commonly referred to as vertigo or disequilibrium.
Both of these cause you to become unsteady on your feet with disorientation. The reason is that they disrupt the signals being processed by your eyes and inner ears, which the body relies on for spatial and environmental awareness.
How Your Ears Help with Balance
People commonly think we keep balance with our vision. But, while vision helps, your ears also play a vital role. Alongside vision, the nerves of the vestibular system help process information around us. A disruption to either your eye, inner ear or both results in feelings of dizziness and vertigo.
And as a result, you can become off-balance. This is because the inner ear contains the utricle and saccule that are responsible for tracking your head’s movements. They also help your brain recognize and compensate for gravity, so you don’t fall when moving.
Hearing Loss and Imbalance
Because of the ear’s role in maintaining balance, hearing loss can cause you to lose your balance. Common symptoms of hearing-related imbalance include losing balance when walking or running, feeling uneasy in low light and feeling floating or heaviness.
These symptoms can cause your balance to become misaligned and could lead to serious injury from falling down. Other issues such as Meniere’s disease and tinnitus can also cause balance problems since they severely reduce the effectiveness of your hearing due to damaged nerves.
Balance Disorder Diagnosis
Many conditions can cause balance issues, such as Meniere’s disease, migraines and aging. Any of these affect your visual and auditory senses and can be severely disrupting to your quality of life. Fortunately, there are specific tests for diagnosing balance disorders. These are:
- VNG: A battery of tests that measures eye and ear processing with the following.
- Caloric tests: Inner ear stimulation to detect weaknesses.
- Rotation seats: A chair is rotated slowly to see when your ears react.
- Eye movement tests: A measurement of your eyes by following dots.
- Positional eye movement: Checks for involuntary movement of your eyes.
This complete set of tests is designed to check for subtle tell-tale signs of ear-related and non-ear-related conditions that cause imbalance. While they aren’t definitive, they can give a clear indication if something isn’t quite right, and treatment can progress from there.
Associated Balance Conditions
Your inner ear and hearing loss experiences can manifest as losing your balance through dizziness. However, there are other conditions that can cause an imbalance. Some are relatively harmless, while others are severe. Some of the most common include Meniere’s disease, which is most commonly associated with tinnitus. Also, severe migraine can cause vertigo because they affect the vestibular system. And you can also experience imbalance from a viral inner ear infection or inflammation which disrupts the signals to your brain.
How Audiology Associates of Missouri Can Help
Experiencing balance problems can become dangerous and debilitating. Fortunately, audiologists can help with hearing-related balance problems. At Audiology Associates of Missouri, we have a dedicated team of experts ready and available to assist with the diagnosis and treatment of ear conditions. We can also provide help and guidance for other hearing conditions such as hearing loss and tinnitus. So please give us a call at (888) 701-1441 to learn more about how we can help you.