Loss of Balance and Hearing Loss
We often feel off balance at times, but when it happens more often than not, it may be an indication that we may have hearing loss. Our ears not only help us hear, they also help us stay upright by balancing the amount of fluid within the inner ear. Hearing loss disrupts this balance and can result in serious injuries due to falling.
Some types of hearing loss do not necessarily affect your sense of balance. An example of this is noise-induced hearing loss, which results from damage to the hair follicles within the cochlea. This deterioration only affects the sound signals being transmitted to the brain but not the fluid within your inner ear. This is why your sense of balance may remain unaffected if you have hearing loss due to noise exposure.
The inverse is also possible; having problems with equilibrium in the absence of hearing loss. This is the case when it comes to benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This health condition usually results in a spinning sensation resulting from sudden movements of the head.
The causes of BPPV are due to disruptions in the gel embedded with crystals that lie within two distinct pouches in your vestibular system. The crystals respond to changes in gravity and help determine your speed. At times, a lone crystal may get dislodged and travel into the ear canal, sending erroneous equilibrium signals to the brain. This condition results in problems with balance, but since it does not affect your ear or cochlea in any way, your hearing remains intact.
In some cases, both balance issues and hearing loss coincide, as in the case of Ménière’s disease. This health condition occurs due to fluid accumulation within the tubes of the inner ears. This blockage due to fluid build-up can cause a rise in ear pressure, resulting in disrupted signals being sent to the brain which can cause disturbances in both your hearing and balance.
If you feel you are suffering from hearing loss or have recently been experiencing equilibrium problems, make sure you consult an audiologist to get a hearing exam. Hearing loss is often a common reason for loss of balance, and treating hearing loss in a timely manner through the use of hearing aids can help alleviate balance problems and keep you safe.