Dizziness & Balance

Scientists say that hearing aids could make a big difference in helping someone who has trouble hearing keep their balance.

"Dr. Jackson is extremely professional and kind - listened to my concerns and helped treat vertigo and balance issues I was having. Highly recommended!"

Carlyle Jackson
Carlyle Jackson

If you've ever tried to move around a room in pitch-darkness, you know how hard it can be to keep your balance when you lose sense. If you can't see, you have to use your other senses to stay on your feet. 

Hearing and seeing are essential for keeping our balance. These senses help us figure out where we are and what is happening around us. Scientists say that hearing aids could make a big difference in helping someone who has trouble hearing keep their balance.

How does our balance system work?

Thanks to your balance system, you can stand, walk, run, and move around without falling. Your eyes, inner ear, muscles, and joints send signals to your brain. You can keep your balance with the help of these signs.

The vestibular system consists of two groups of end organs in the middle ear: 

  1. The three semicircular canals. These respond to rotational movements - superior, posterior, and horizontal.
  2. The utricle and saccule in the vestibule. These respond to changes in how the head is positioned in relation to gravity. Inside the utricle and saccule are hair cells and fluid, which move along with your movements. These hair cells send impulses to your brain through your auditory nerve. These impulses tell your brain where you are in your physical space.

Problems in the inner ear could cause balance problems. You should see a doctor if you can't keep your balance or feel dizzy. Your doctor might suggest that you get your ears looked at.

Videonystagmography (VNG)

The VNG is a test of the inner ear and portions of the brain which helps to understand the cause of your dizziness or imbalance.  For best results, you should be well rested and follow the instructions provided to you prior to your test date. During the test you will wear special goggles over your eyes that record your eye movements.  During the test you will be asked to look at and track a target on the screen.  Then we will have you lying in certain positions. Lastly, we will present cool and warm air in your ears to measure your inner ear vestibular response. The entire test will take approximately 60-90 minutes.   After the results are interpreted, they will be sent to you and your doctor.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)/Epley Maneuver

BPPV is a common disorder that causes short episodes of vertigo in response to different head positions that stimulate the posterior semicircular canal of the inner ear.  Episodes are typically short in duration; sometimes nausea and vomiting accompany these episodes. We are able to determine if someone has BPPV using special goggles that measure and record nystagmus (abnormal movement of the eyes).  If positive, we then provide treatment in the office with head exercises to relieve these symptoms. The Epley maneuver (typically done once or twice) provides successful treatment to most patients with BPPV.

Hearing aids can improve your balance.

Research from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis shows that helping older people with hearing loss helps them stay on their feet. When patients with hearing loss wore their hearing aids, they did better on standard balance tests than without them. Several people stayed still on the foam pad for at least 30 seconds, whether they wore hearing aids or not (considered normal for a healthy adult). But people who had trouble keeping their balance in this test did better when they wore hearing aids. 

Balance and hearing tests are essential.

Balance tests help you figure out where your problems are coming from. The tests will show where the problems are in your ears. Some tests can be done in the hospital or your doctor's office.

As we've already said, hearing aids can help us be safer and more aware of our surroundings, but they can also help in other ways. People who use hearing aids are less anxious and paranoid and worry about their surroundings less. Studies that show a link between hearing loss and mental illnesses like dementia and depression show that hearing aids may help prevent or ease the symptoms of these problems.

Hearing aids could help you or a loved one who has trouble hearing get their balance and safety back. Please call us today to set up a meeting to find out more about how hearing aids can help you.

Physician Referrals - please send the most recent office visit notes and current medications list with referral to 864-770-8882 or email to hello@upstatehear.com.

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