Latest posts by Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A (see all)
- Hearing Aids Mitigate Cognitive Decline in Older People - October 31, 2019
- Tips for Better Hearing in Noise - October 31, 2019
- Falls & Accidents are More Likely with Hearing Loss - September 26, 2019
Hearing loss is a condition that affects us in a variety of ways, with much of this also being mentally and emotionally. While many of us will be aware of the physical symptoms and causes of the condition, many of us may not realize that it can also be linked to balance disorders.
The majority of this will be driven by the impact that the condition can have on our cognitive load. This is primarily driven by the complex processes that the inner ear must go through. Alongside this is how intrinsically linked many of these processes are with the brain itself.
Beyond the link between hearing loss and cognitive abilities, however, many of us may not realize how our hearing can impact our balance. There are a variety of ways that your hearing can impact your balance.
To properly understand this, however, it’s worth first looking at how your balance is controlled and what may affect it. With this, it should then be easier to understand the link between balance issues and hearing loss.
How Is Balance Controlled?
A balance disorder can be caused by a variety of things and can occur in quite a significant number of situations. There can be several symptoms that can become apparent when it manifests. Some of the more notable of these include:
- Blurred Vision;
- Unsteadiness, and;
- A sense of floating.
Each of the above can be felt regardless of whether you’re standing up or sitting, and even when you’re lying down. The part of your body that’s most responsible for your sense of balance is a part of your inner ear, which is known as the ‘labyrinth’ because of its similarity to a maze.
The labyrinth is quite a complex and delicate part of the body and is made up of a combination of bone and tissue. There are a few different areas that comprise this part of your ear, such as the cochlea, which controls your hearing.
Alongside this are the semicircular canals and otolithic organs, both of which have a large role in your balance. Combined with the visual system, these can play quite a significant impact on your sense of balance. This is primarily seen in how it enables your body to know its position when compared to the floor and other areas.
Much of this will be seen in the muscles in your inner ear, as well as in your visual system. These will then have an impact on your sensory receptors, which are what help you maintain your balance.
Is Losing Your Hearing Related To Your Balance?
While the above may explain how your inner ear can have an effect on your balance, many of us may still be confused about the relationship between balance issues and hearing loss. While losing your hearing shouldn’t cause the balance issue by itself, what’s causing one may end up causing the other.
As a result of this, you could see yourself losing your hearing while developing a variety of balance issues. When these are combined, they can be a large sign that you may have an underlying condition.
There can be a variety of other symptoms that may present themselves, each of which you should be on the lookout for. By doing so, you’ll be able to ensure that you can catch the illness early. Some of the more common signs are:
- Changes in heart rate and blood pressure;
- Vertigo, and;
Alongside these may also be anxiety and depression, although these can be somewhat less common than the above. If you develop any of the above, then it’s recommended that you speak to a medial or hearing professional, such as an ENT specialist.
By doing so, you should be able to determine the underlying cause of the symptoms, which is naturally essential in helping to treat it. There are a variety of things that may cause the condition, or play quite a large role in it.
One of the more notable of these includes an ear infection, which can be treated much easier than you may believe. The most common of these is labyrinthitis, which can lead to you losing your hearing, as well as a balance disorder.
Alongside this is Ménière’s disease. While this is somewhat rarer than the above, it can have more symptoms, which includes the majority of the above. What many people may not realize is that a medication that you’re on may cause both of these.
However, this means that the treatment can be as simple as changing medication. To properly ensure that you receive an accurate diagnosis, however, you should ensure that you speak to a medical professional or hearing specialist. By doing so, you should be able to prevent any further damage to your ear and a worse sense of imbalance.
Potential Causes Of A Balance Disorder
An ear infection can be one of the primary causes of a balance disorder, which can be led by much of what we mentioned above. However, this doesn’t mean that your ear will be the only cause of the condition.
Instead, there can be a variety of other reasons that you may suffer from one. Perhaps the most notable of these is a head injury, with this causing a variety of other symptoms. There are a few other causes that may cause the condition, with some of the more notable being:
- An eye muscle imbalance, and;
- Low blood pressure.
Should you suffer from any of the above, then it’s highly recommended that you seek medical attention, especially if it doesn’t go away. Balance disorders can often be one of the more prominent symptoms of an underlying condition, which is why you should seek medical help.
However, this is primarily the case if you haven’t already been diagnosed with a condition where this imbalance can be a symptom.
Alongside certain illnesses, medication can also play a large role in whether you suffer from an imbalance. As a result, if you’re taking any medication, then you should determine whether this can be one of the side effects. Doing so will help rule out whether or not it’s the cause of the imbalance. If it isn’t, then you may need to look at one of the above.
Hearing loss is something that should be minimized as much as possible, for a variety of reasons. One of the primary ways that you can do so is by preventing the leading causes of the condition, such as being exposed to a large number of loud noises.
However, noise-induced hearing impairment isn’t the only way that this can develop. Instead, there may be a variety of other ways that it could occur, such as age, which can be tied directly to our cognitive load.
Because of this, it’s highly recommended that you have hearing tests done regularly. Doing so will not only help you prevent your hearing from being harmed but also any of the harm that may be caused by the connection between hearing loss and cognitive abilities.
These are things that can become much worse over time, which is why they’re best avoided. While balance issues and hearing loss may not be the first things that come to mind when looking after your health, you’ll still need to look after them.
As a result, you should have your hearing checked regularly, especially if you think that you’re suffering from any impairment. These tests can be much quicker and easier than you may believe, and you’ve nothing to lose, so what’s stopping you from looking after you’re hearing?