North Richland Hills, TX

North Richland Hills and Grand Prairie, TX

North Richland Hills and Grand Prairie, TX

Balance and Hearing Loss – What’s the Connection?

Woman experiencing dizziness, vertigo, and balance issues.

Falls can have a considerable effect on your health, especially as you get older. That’s why more completely understanding the possible causes of falls is so essential. A sound recognition of those causes can help prevent damage caused by tripping or loss of balance. For instance, as researchers have learned more, it’s become clear that improving flexibility and strength is critical to minimizing fall risks.

But it’s not the only aspect that should be considered. Researchers have uncovered a perhaps not so unexpected connection between hearing loss and fall risks. A study, conducted by a team from Johns Hopkins University, found that individuals between the ages of 40 and 70 who had even mild hearing loss were three times more likely to fall than people who did not have hearing loss.

There is also a significant connection between fall risks and the severity of hearing loss according to this same study. Providers and also patients will be in a better place to handle fall risks by understanding the link between hearing and balance. Quality of life can be substantially improved by this. Seniors will be able to remain in their homes longer, deal with fewer broken bones, and experience fewer fall-associated emergencies.

Does hearing loss cause balance issues?

It’s common for people to think of balance as a foot and leg thing. Although having good footwork can be an advantage, your ears are where your sense of balance really begins.

Actually, it’s specifically your inner ear where balance starts. The inner ear has a part called the labyrinth which is comprised of two essential parts:

  • The cochlea: A spiral-shaped cavity that transmits sound to your brain.
  • The vestibular system: This is a complex collection of tubes that transmits balance information to your brain.

Your brain makes use of the relative movement of this fluid to determine physical orientation. Your sense of balance and equilibrium are regulated by this.

A feeling of dizziness and vertigo can be the result if signals from your ears are distorted or disrupted. The same array of underlying causes of hearing loss often are also responsible for disrupting the balance signals that your brain receives from the vestibular system.

Particular causes of balance loss

Exactly what kinds of hearing loss can trigger balance problems is something that researchers have been working to find out. There are some conditions which impact both balance and hearing. Here are a couple of those conditions:

  • Labrynthitis: When the labyrinth of the inner ear gets an infection this condition comes about. The ear will lose its ability to hear and produce equilibrium when the labyrinth becomes inflamed. Medications, including steroids, are typically the course of treatment. Once the swelling decreases, the symptoms will normally go away.
  • Meniere’s Disease: This condition impacts the inner ear. Symptoms include outbreaks of hearing loss and dizziness. Over time this condition normally gets worse.

Obviously, there are other causes of balance issues that aren’t related to hearing loss. For example, Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is known to trigger dizziness and vertigo but as a general rule doesn’t result in hearing loss or ear fullness.

If you had a balance disorder, what would the symptoms look like?

Balance conditions don’t always have an effect on your ability to hear. Most often, balance disorder symptoms include dizziness and vertigo. This might sometimes be accompanied by nausea. Individuals might also experience vision issues or a sense of “floating”.

You should contact us about possible treatments if you have any of these symptoms.

How is the risk of falling elevated by hearing loss?

That hearing and balance are closely related isn’t in dispute. But the exact nature of that connection is still somewhat uncertain. The connection between hearing loss and falls, for example, does not make clear the causes behind that relationship.

Here are a few possible links between hearing loss and the risk of taking a tumble:

  • Isolation: Hearing loss has long been linked to an increase in social withdrawal. If you fall, you may not have anyone around you who can help you get back up or call for help. Your chance of getting a serious injury will be increased as a result.
  • Cognitive drain and fatigue: Those with hearing loss often note a considerable increase in fatigue. In large part, that’s because when hearing loss takes place, the human brain tries to compensate. The additional cognitive energy needed to process sound can be fatiguing. Falls are more likely with this fatigue and mental drain.
  • Diminished situational awareness: Being oriented to what’s occurring in physical reality is mainly accomplished by your ears. With neglected hearing loss, you might be less likely to notice a falling hazard just around the corner (a family pet, for example).

Strategies for balance, hearing loss, and fall reduction

How can you deal with balance issues? For most people, the first step will be attempting to identify the root cause of your balance condition. Depending on the cause, antibiotics or steroids might be used. Any nausea and vomiting associated with these balance and hearing problems may require other medication. It’s also relevant, in some cases, to get any hearing loss treated as well.

When it comes to decreasing fall risk more broadly, a more generalized approach might be successful. Here are some examples of situations like this:

  • Talk to a physical therapist: Your cognitive, visual, and balance systems can be rejuvenated with the help of physical and occupational therapists. This can help you keep your balance and avoid falls.
  • Talk to an audiologist: We can help fit you with hearing aids and maintain your hearing health. This can help ensure that your fall risk associated with hearing loss is as low as possible.

Don’t avoid getting quality healthcare

Falls can cause serious damage as you age. Balance conditions, hearing loss, and a combination of the two can substantially increase your fall risk. Prevention becomes so essential for this reason. Avoiding a fall can give you more time in your home, more time with your family, and more happiness and comfort in your day-to-day life. We can help you with vertigo, dizziness, and balance issues so call for an appointment right away.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

Questions? Talk To Us.