Balance disorders are a common health condition in the United States. They are often characterized by dizziness and unsteadiness. Causes include, chronic illness, viruses, head trauma, or even migraines. If you suspect you have a balance disorder, we can help. Learn more about the connection between balance and hearing, and find out how you can feel steady again.
Balance disorders can have many symptoms, although these signs may point to other conditions. Common symptoms include:
If you've noticed any of these symptoms, contact us immediately.
Your inner ear contains a network of structures called the labyrinth, which is responsible for balance and hearing. The different parts of the labyrinth—cochlea, vestibule, and semicircular canals—contain fluid and fine hairs that transmit nerve impulses to the brain, allowing us to experience sound and maintain equilibrium (the body's sense of balance). These structures are connected, but hearing stems from the cochlea while the vestibule and semicircular canals are responsible for balance.
Hearing loss alone cannot cause balance disorders, but since both occur in the inner ear, they often appear together. Head injuries or infections that cause hearing loss could also damage the structures responsible for balance, and vice versa. Even if you experience hearing loss as a result of aging or sound exposure, you could still notice balance problems from inner ear damage.
If you're experiencing symptoms of a balance disorder like vertigo, visit us right away. We can analyze your symptoms and help plan your next steps. We can perform specialized tests to verify your diagnosis including, hearing exams, blood tests, head and brain imaging, and measurements of muscle movement and equilibrium. A nystagmogram, for example, examines eye movement, while posturography involves standing on a moveable platform to assess balance.
Your treatment will depend on the cause of your balance or hearing problem. If you have a preexisting condition that's causing inner ear damage, your doctor will likely treat that directly. For a virus, you may just need to rest until the infection resolves on its own. Particularly severe cases may require surgery, but there are also medications for treating symptoms like vertigo.
When damage to your inner ear results in hearing loss, there are a variety of assistive devices we can help you choose from, including standard hearing aids, sound-boosting and -focusing devices, and cochlear implants. Whether you need treatment for hearing loss or an annual exam, we can help. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.