Do you ever stand up too quickly and feel dizzy all of a sudden? You may be able to credit this undesirable experience to your ears. Problems with our hearing can affect our ability to keep our balance. People experiencing hearing loss may also experience balance problems.
To balance, our brains rely on parts of our inner ears, our eyes and sensations in our legs and feet. This balance system is also known as the vestibular system, helping us stay balanced and orient ourselves in space. Ear balance disorders can make you feel wobbly or like you’re constantly moving. As your hearing specialist Omaha experts, we wanted to talk about how hearing loss and balance are related.
How hearing health relates to balance
The labyrinth in our inner ear consists of three semicircular canals and two otolith organs. The three canals are filled with fluid and sense when we tilt our head from side-to-side and up-and-down. The two otolith organs move in response to gravity, whether you’re standing up or lying down.
Not all people who have hearing loss will experience problems with their balance and vice versa. However, those with hearing loss are more likely to experience balance problems. This is because the hearing and vestibular systems share a nerve pathway to the brain, the vestibulocochlear nerve. When something is wrong with one, it’s likely something will be wrong with the other.
Balance disorders and hearing
Balance disorders can be caused by ear infections, low blood pressure or blood circulation problems. A person with a balance disorder might feel like they’re spinning or floating while they’re standing or sitting still. Here are some common balance disorders:
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo can occur with age or after trauma to the head. It causes vertigo when loose otoconia are tumbling around in your semicircular canals.
Meniere's disease, much like labyrinthitis, is when there’s pressure within the labyrinth in the inner ear. This also causes hearing loss, vertigo and tinnitus. Labyrinthitis is more curable than Meniere’s disease.
Vestibular neuronitis is also similar to labyrinthitis, affecting the nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain and causing prolonged vertigo and tinnitus or hearing loss.
Mal de Debarquement syndrome is a leftover sensation from prolonged movement. You could experience this after getting off a boat or cruise ship when you feel like you’re still bobbing and swaying with the ocean.
Perilymph fistula occurs when the fluid in the inner ear gets into the middle ear. This can either happen at birth, after trauma to the head, with ear infections or after scuba diving.
Visit your hearing specialist Omaha
There are certain treatments that can help with balance disorders. Treating your hearing loss, especially if that’s the cause of your balance disorders, can help. If you consistently feel dizzy, that’s a symptom that something might just not be right. If vertigo is your main symptom, your hearing specialist Omaha is a good place to start. A cardiologist or neurologist may be needed if the cause is blood circulation related or if you’ve had trauma to the head. Contact us today to see how we can help!