Can hearing loss affect our balance? Yes it can. If you have ever had a bad ear infection you would know.
In the same vein, if hearing devices help to maintain our hearing ability can they also help with our balance? Studies have shown that they do have a stabilizing effect.
Why do we need to address the issue of balance and impaired hearing? A lack of balance leaves us vulnerable to accidents and missteps that we would otherwise avoid easily.
To tackle the cause of the imbalance which stems from a damaged hearing process only seems logical.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) states implicitly:
“It is important to find out the cause of your dizziness and balance problems. A variety of underlying conditions or issues may cause balance problems and dizziness, including
- cardiovascular or circulation problems;
- head injury (traumatic brain injury, or TBI);
- injury to the ear or vestibular system;
- inner ear disorders;
- medication side effects;
- neurological diseases or disorders;
- sudden hearing loss;
- sudden vision changes;
- surgeries, such as cochlear implant placement;
- tumors on the acoustic nerve; and
- viruses and other infections.”
What does this all mean for your daily activities?
- Impaired hearing compromises your ability to be alert to possible dangers.
- Lack of balance will negatively impact your spatial awareness making it harder for your mobility
- The brain has to constantly relocate resources to compensate for impaired hearing resulting in distorted sound information
Did you know that your left ear and right ear are not equal in hearing ability? This plays a role in our need for balance as the basis for decisions regarding physical range and placement.
Today’s technology allows us to have hearing implements that are designed to provide overall sound equilibrium.
Their success will be dependent on many factors however, such as the extent of hearing damage, environmental factors, medications, illnesses and history of accidents.
Do you participate in outdoor physical activities? Then your hearing needs will be different than
someone who is content playing cards with their friends.
Your hearing health professional will be able to provide specifics as well as a range of products and prices suited to your lifestyle and budget.
They will also be able to address the inherent imbalances pertaining to your hearing ability and work with you on fine tuning the programing and fit of your hearing implements.
Are you experiencing any of the following hearing loss symptoms such as:
- Loved ones telling you there is a change in your ability to hear
- Constantly increasing the volume on the TV
- Constantly asking people to repeat themselves
- Difficulty deciphering speech from noise
- Difficulty keeping up with conversation
- Speech sounds muffled
In addition to:
- Difficulty walking
- Blurred vision
- Frequently tripping
ASHA warns us that “Balance problems and dizziness may be symptoms of a larger health issue. It is important to see a doctor for any concerning symptoms (e.g., blurred vision, sudden hearing loss, falls or problems walking, weakness in the arms and legs)” and suggests that “Further balance testing and care can be provided by an audiologist who specializes in balance disorders.”
Dr Huller from the Washington University School of Medicine noticed a significant uptick in spatial awareness and confidence expressed by a group of his patients aged between 65 and 91. He performed a series of balance tests on the participants and results showed that his patients performed better when their hearing devices were on!
Enhancement of our hearing abilities is an obvious advantage specially for adults hitting their 40’s and 50’s and are strongly motivated to retain their independence and mobility.
As we age we become more vulnerable to the disadvantages that hearing impairment can bring.
If we have been injured and suffered damage to our neck and head then our hearing can also be at risk.
It is always the best route to be proactive and seek a thorough hearing assessment to know where you stand.
A qualified hearing health professional, Ear Nose & Throat (ENT) doctor or audiologist would help diagnose your hearing health issues.
As hearing loss begins to affect every age category and the world becomes a noisier place you can be your own best advocate in the health of your hearing.
Do not hesitate to reach out to us whenever you are ready for further guidance and information.