Latest posts by Dr. Maria Wynens, Au.D. (see all)
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We can draw upon our own personal experiences as well as medical research to confirm the correlation between hearing health and the crucial role it plays in our sense of balance.
If you are suffering from hearing loss then chances are pretty good that your balance is also affected. This in turn brings up the possibility of hearing aids being of benefit to those that have been diagnosed as hearing impaired and their use in helping to maintain our balance by elevating our hearing experience. If you have ever experienced dizziness due to an ear infection or change in altitude it is because the mechanism of our body’s stability and balance is located in our inner ear!
How does the health of our hearing determine our level of balance?
Damage to the inner ear will determine our balance because of the complex processes it is responsible for and signals it send to the brain to let us determine direction and movement.
Within the cochlea that resides in the inner ear there lie two sensory organs and semicircular canals. They are connected to each other and if we move our head in one direction or the other messages are sent to the brain informing it of the movement. The signals the brain receives from the inner ear is then transmitted to our eye so that we adjust our focus within fractions of a second.
All of the above is a summarized description of one of the many mechanisms that work together for us to maintain balance, but suffice to say, the workings of the inner ear are crucial. If our hearing is working well and healthy, we have the ability to pull together all the necessary mechanisms resulting in good balance. However, if the health of our ears is impaired, the brain and body have to compensate in other ways and that results in a poorer sense of balance.
How do we test the efficacy of hearing aids?
Close to 30 million Americans are in need of, but are without hearing aids as stated by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Diseases (NDICD). It has been proven and is part our national health concern, whether we know we are suffering from hearing loss or not we all need to be evaluated. The NDICD highly suggests that early detection and appropriate use of hearing aids can be crucial to the hearing health and life of a person.
It is correct to assume that if hearing aids can help you hear that they can also help you elevate and maintain your balance.
Based on test results from the research conducted at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, we have good reason to believe that hearing aids are advantageous to, and even improving both our sense of balance. The research involved a small study of the stability of posture included 14 participants that were between 65 and 91 years of age. In one test called the “foam pad” test the participants were required to have their eyes covered and stand with their feet together and instructed to have their hearing aids on or off at random times.
All the participants did better for longer periods of time when they had their hearing aids turned.
Timothy E. Hullar, professor of otolaryngology and researcher at the School of Medicine suggests that, based on the results “The participants appeared to be using the sound information coming through their hearing aids as auditory reference points or landmarks to help maintain balance.”
A healthy ability to balance gives us a fare measure of safety as well in our everyday tasks. With the use of hearing aids, we can attend to our overall health and not feel intimidated or insecure about attending social and familial activities. As hearing loss is an invisible condition, we need to be alert to our hearing needs and catch any decline as early as possible. Wearing hearing aids can be daunting but the first step is to get an assessment and know your choices of which there are many.
Atlanta Hearing Doctor
Here at Atlanta Hearing Doctor, we encourage your move to a better, fuller hearing experience and an overall healthier you. With your first appointment, we welcome and support you on your venture for the best and balanced life you deserve to have!