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Can Hearing Loss Affect Your Balance

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What Are The Symptoms Of Hearing Loss

Balance – Vestibular System

Hearing loss can happen gradually. You might not even notice youre losing your hearing.

Most people dont have any pain with hearing loss. Instead, you might notice you:

  • Ask people to repeat themselves often.
  • Cant follow a conversation or think other people mumble.
  • Cant hear certain high-pitched sounds, like birds singing.
  • Need to turn up the volume on the TV or radio.
  • Experience ringing in the ears , pain , a fluid sensation or pressure inside the ear.

Signs of hearing loss in children include:

  • Not startling at loud noises.
  • Not turning toward sounds or when you say the childs name .
  • Responding to some but not all sounds.
  • Saying huh? a lot.
  • Speech delays, such as not saying dada or mama by age 1.

Memory Loss Frequently Indicates Hearing Loss

The symptoms and signs of hearing impairment can often be hard to detect. Hearing loss doesnt happen instantly. Damage to your hearing is often further along than you would want by the time you actually observe the symptoms. But if you get your hearing checked soon after detecting some memory loss, you might be able to catch the issue early.

My Hearing Centers Hearing Loss

Living with hearing loss can have some serious consequences. You have difficulty interacting with your family and friends, and have to ask people to repeat themselves a lot. Maybe youve stopped hearing the doorbell, or the stove timer, causing inconvenience or even a safety hazard. Not only does hearing loss affect your relationships or your efficiency at work, new research has found that it even has a massive impact on the very structure of your brain.

Balance Problems Are Very Common Especially As We Age

Feeling dizzy is common, especially as weget older.

Whenever theres a delicate process happening within your body, theres potential for it to go awry.

Statistics vary, but around 15 to 20 percent of American adults experience balance or dizziness problems every year, estimates show. This increases with age: A much-cited study in the Journal of Vestibular Research found that 35 percent of adults in the United States experience balance dysfunction.

Theres a variety of reasons equilibrium issues are more common with age. For instance, some vestibular disorders are more common as we get older, according to Dr. Cameron Budenz, MD, medical director of the Audiology and Cochlear Implant Center at Phelps Hospital, Northwell Health in Sleepy Hollow, New York.

With age also comes changes to vision or a potential loss of sensation to your legs and feet, she says. Dual sensory impairmentsuch as vision loss and hearing lossalso places extra stress on the balance system.

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Can Hearing Loss Influence Your Balance

Hearing loss is a condition that greatly affects a persons quality of life. It can happen suddenly, but it can also happen gradually, as the small hairs in your ear get damaged over time.

Your ears and balance

The ear is a vital organ not only does it process sound waves, but it also serves an important purpose in the vestibular system, a combination of the visual system and the orientation of the body that helps it maintain its balance. When any part of this complex system is compromised, it can lead to balance disorders.

A structure in the inner ear, aptly named the labyrinth because it looks like an intricate maze, is largely responsible for the bodys sense of balance and orientation. The labyrinth is made up of bone and tissue and is extremely sensitive and delicate. Part of the labyrinth is the semi-circular canals and otolithic organs, which are in charge of balance, and the cochlea, which controls hearing.

This system makes your body aware of gravity and helps you to keep upright and see objects clearly .

Is your balance affected when you suffer from hearing loss?

While hearing loss in itself is not directly responsible for the loss of balance, it really depends on what part of the ear is damaged and what type of hearing loss youre experiencing.

You may experience hearing loss together with balance impairment if the vestibular system is affected and there is a bigger underlying condition that might be responsible for hearing loss and a balance disorder.

How Can Hearing Loss Affect Your Balance

Can Hearing Loss Affect a Person
  • 21-12-2021

Apart from perceiving sounds, the ears play a critical role in maintaining balance and helping people understand where they are and their position. The ear enables a human being to know if they are upright or even falling. The ears work together with the eyes and the brain in maintaining balance. The inner ear structure, named labyrinth, is responsible for perceiving gravity and helping the body maintain balance and stay upright. While the cochlea in the labyrinth controls the perception of sound, the semicircular canals and otolith organs maintain balance. In this regard, hearing loss may be accompanied by problems in proportion.

A problem in the ears may affect the parts of the ear that influence balance. However, it is possible to suffer hearing loss and balance issues. This may arise if the part of the ear perceiving sound is affected by a particular condition leaving out the region involved in balance. However, it is a matter of concern if a person experiences hearing loss and balance issues since there might be a more significant problem, such as damage to the vestibular system. If this arises, a person should seek help from a hearing and balance clinic. Among the most common ways in which hearing loss affects balance include the following:

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Treating Hearing Loss Can Recover Balance

Most scientists now believe that the use of hearing aids will significantly improve issues with the balance.

A study was conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, which found that older people who use hearing aids benefit from balance changes, thus reducing their risk of falling. This study showed that it is exposure to sound, not just the inner ear balance system, that adds meaning to help with postural balance.

Standard balance tests were used in the study to measure the equilibrium in participants while they were wearing hearing aids, and while they werent. The study concluded that sound information coming through their hearing aids tended to be used by the participants as sensory reference points or landmarks to help maintain equilibrium.

What Are Balance Disorders

Balance disorders are any condition that leads to a loss of balance or sense of vertigo/dizziness. These might be caused by simple things such as ear infections or low blood pressure, or a more serious issue like tumors or improper blood circulation. Regardless of what causes a balance disorder, it can lead to serious problems. A person with balance problems might feel like they’re tipping over, spinning, or floating, even when they’re standing still. Some people with balance disorders report experiencing vertigo when they turn their head, especially when getting out of bed or rolling over. They might stumble from time to time, hold walls to center themselves, or find themselves dragged to the ground. The severity of balance disorders can vary from person to person, and the cause of your balance problems can determine how bad they will be.

Common causes of balance disorders are:

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Imbalance Related To Aging

Some individuals develop imbalance as a result of the aging process. In many cases this is due to circulatory changes in the very small blood vessels supplying the inner ear and balance nerve mechanism. Fortunately, these disturbances, although they may persist, rarely become worse.

Postural or positional vertigo is the most common balance disturbance of aging. This may develop in younger individuals as a result of head injuries or circulatory disturbances. Dizziness on change of head position is a distressing symptom, which is often helped by vestibular exercises.

Temporary unsteadiness upon arising from bed in the morning is not uncommon in older individuals. At times this feeling of imbalance may persist for an hour or two. Arising from bed slowly usually minimizes the disturbance. Unsteadiness when walking, particularly on stepping up or down or walking on uneven surfaces, develops in some individuals as they progress in age. Using a cane and learning to use the eyes to help the balance is often helpful.

How Is Hearing Loss Diagnosed

Check-up: Hearing can affect your balance

Your provider will ask about your symptoms and do a physical exam. They check for signs of infection or other issues that could cause hearing loss.

To measure hearing loss, a healthcare provider performs an audiogram. This hearing test measures which types of sounds you can hear. The test measures:

  • Configuration: How well you hear high-pitched and low-pitched sounds.
  • Degree: Measured in terms of normal, slight to severe or profound hearing loss.
  • Type: Constructive, sensorineural or mixed.

If you have an injury or a possible tumor, you may get a CT scan or MRI.

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Conditions That Affect Both Hearing And Balance

  • Ménière’s disease: This disease causes dizziness, tinnitus and hearing loss.
  • Acoustic neuroma: These benign, slow-growing tumors grow on the vestibulocochlear nerve, causing hearing loss, tinnitus and vertigo.
  • Ototoxic drugs: These are many medications, including antibiotics, chemo drugs and aspirin, that can potentially cause damage to hearing and balance systems.
  • Prolonged noise exposure: Youre likely well aware that loud noises are harmful to hearing. Research points to noise exposure damaging cells within the vestibular system, too, Stone said.
  • Aging: As noted above, getting older means more balance problems. And of course, the same is true for hearing. One-third of adults over age 65 have age-related hearing loss.
  • Infections: Cytomegalovirus , Epstein-Barr virus, or meningitis can also cause a loss of balance and hearing functions, Stone said.
  • Genetic mutations:The sensory organs in our inner ear, vestibular and auditory, have a common embryonic origin, so a single gene mutation may disrupt development of both sensory systems, Stone said. One example being neurofibromatosis 2, which causes tumors to grow on nerves.

Wearing Hearing Aids Means Im Old And Im Not Ready For That

Its normal to feel worried that hearing loss means youre agingand to want to hide it. Plenty of people with a hearing impairment sit silently rather than joining in conversations and activities, because they fear that hearing problems will make them seem helpless or less than competent. The truth: Connecting with others can help your brain stay younger and keep you involved with life.

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Tips: How To Talk With Someone With Hearing Loss

Here are some tips you can use when talking with someone who has a hearing problem:

  • In a group, include people with hearing loss in the conversation.
  • Find a quiet place to talk to help reduce background noise, especially in restaurants and at social gatherings.
  • Stand in good lighting and use facial expressions or gestures to give clues.
  • Face the person and speak clearly. Maintain eye contact.
  • Speak a little more loudly than normal, but dont shout. Try to speak slowly, but naturally.
  • Speak at a reasonable speed.
  • Do not hide your mouth, eat, or chew gum while speaking.
  • Repeat yourself if necessary, using different words.
  • Try to make sure only one person talks at a time.
  • Be patient. Stay positive and relaxed.
  • Ask how you can help.

The Upside Of Hearing Aids

Hearing Loss and the Vestibular System

While the new study found that for people with hearing loss, using hearing aids was associated with a lower risk of dementia, that doesnt mean aids can prevent dementia or even reduce risks.

Its just too early to say, without the results of a randomized controlled trial.

Still, the upside of using these devices for hearing loss can be substantial. If someone is considering a hearing aid, we do know that it should help improve the quality of life, help with communication, Deal says. We do know there are benefits, we just dont know if cognition is one of them.

Article originally appeared on Consumer Reports.

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Hear Better With Clarity Audiology & Hearing Solutions

Need help with your hearing? Clarity Hearing can help. Clarity Audiology & Hearing Solutions is an independently-owned and operated clinic that focuses on quality of care and personalized, friendly service. Our Doctors of Audiology are highly trained with advanced degrees and take the time to provide the personalized care and attention that you need and deserve. We provide advanced hearing aid options that personally calibrated with cutting-edge digital technology to fit your hearing loss, your unique ear anatomy, and your individual listening needs.

Come in for a walk-in appointment on Tuesdays & Fridays from 10:00am to 11:30am, or contact us to schedule an appointment by calling 410-698-6594 or visiting our contact page. Follow us on , , , , and for more blog posts, news, and updates! 1

How Are Balance Disorders Treated

While the symptoms of balance disorders may seem minimal, they have the potential to significantly impact your daily life. As a result, many hope to seek treatment for a balance disorder. Treatment often varies case to case, however, as it is dependent on the underlying cause of the disorder.

Some of the most common treatments include:

  • Vestibular rehabilitation therapy – Because the vestibular system controls your balance, some cases call for therapy designed to retrain your brain to properly receive and process signals from the inner ear.
  • Canalith repositioning maneuvers – In other cases, the balance disorder is caused by particles or deposits in the inner ear. In these instances, a therapist can reposition the particles by maneuvering the persons head in specified patterns.
  • Changes in diet – Changes in one’s diet may help to reduce the symptoms in certain cases, particularly if the underlying cause is Ménières disease or a blood circulation disorder.
  • Medication – Some underlying conditions can be treated with the help of antibiotics. In most cases, medication can be used to ease symptoms of the disorder itself, including vertigo and nausea.
  • Surgery – Certain underlying causes, like Ménières disease or acoustic neuroma, may call for surgical intervention. Surgery is often a last resort and is typically performed to improve inner ear function.

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Balance And Hearing Loss Whats The Link

The sense of hearing affects your overall health. When youre feeling your best, thoughts about your hearing health will rarely cross your mind. But the sudden or even gradual onset of hearing loss can be quite alarming.

A Johns Hopkins study showed that those with mild hearing loss between the ages of 40 to 69 were as much as three times more likely to have an incident of falling than those without hearing issues in that same age bracket. They also found that as the hearing loss increases, the risk of falling increases.

In the medical and physical therapy communities, it has become apparent that hearing loss directly affects the bodys balance and control. Since our balance relies on the many sensations we encounter, its no wonder that our hearing plays a vital role in controlling our movements to keep us oriented and upright.

If hearing loss is the root of the balance problem, its best to fix it. Zeroing in on the causes of hearing loss is vital. Every 10 decibels of hearing loss increases the possibility of a fall.

Ménières disease is another link between hearing loss and balance issues.

Hearing Loss And Social Isolation

How Hearing Loss Affects your Brain

The third link between hearing loss and Alzheimers is social isolation. A study by The National Council on the Aging of 2,300 hearing impaired adults found that people with untreated hearing loss are more likely to experience loneliness, worry, depression, anxiety, and paranoiaand are less likely to join organized and casual social activities. When a person withdraws from life, their risk for dementia intensifies. In short, the less we stimulate our brains by interacting with other people, places, and thingsand the less we use our brains to hear and listenthe more quickly our brains decline, putting us at greater risk for dementia.

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What If You Have Hearing Loss And A Balance Disorder

As mentioned previously,to determine if you have balance disorder, the first step you should take is to visit your doctor. Since these disorders often involve inner ear issues, you may want to visit your local ENT doctor. Your ENT can work to identify and treat the underlying cause of the disorder. If you are experiencing hearing problems, your ENT can also conduct a hearing test to identify your hearing loss.

If you are diagnosed with a balance disorder and hearing loss, you may also benefit from purchasing hearing aids. In 2014, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis published a study assessing the balance of senior hearing aid wearers. Participants performed significantly better when wearing hearing aids than when not wearing hearing aids.

At Advanced Affordable Hearing, we can help you to select the appropriate hearing aids for you loss. By pre-programming our hearing aids to the most common hearing losses, were able to keep our prices low. That way, you can hear better at a price you can afford.

To start your journey to improved hearing today, contact us now!

Can Hearing Aids Affect Your Balance

Balance and hearing are both handled by the ear, so its natural to wonder if theyre related. If so, does the use of a hearing aid affect ones balance? Those are both interesting questions to ponder, but the answers are simpler than you think. While its true the body uses the inner ears labyrinth in addition to visual and other sensory data as key elements in maintaining your balance, the parts of the ear that relate to balance are not the same parts that are primarily concerned with hearing.

To make it simpler, balance disorders and hearing disorders tend to be different. While there are some conditions that cause both hearing loss and balance issues, the symptoms still need to be treated differently. That means your hearing aid should not affect your balance. If using a hearing aid does seem to cause spells of vertigo, its time to investigate why and how thats happening.

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