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HEARING AND BALANCE​
Good Balance Is Necessary To Perform Daily Activities

Our balance system is complex and delicate, and many things can contribute to loss of equilibrium or dizziness—including problems with the inner ear.  Balance-related falls account for more than half of accidental deaths for people 65 and older, and over 300,000 hip fractures a year.   People with mild hearing loss (25 decibels) are 3 times more likely to have a history of falling.  That’s why it’s important to see a healthcare professional if you have balance issues—to diagnose the cause of your problems and begin treatment as soon as possible.
The inner ear, and in particular the endolymph fluid inside, is key to maintaining balance.  Aging alone results in natural endolymph fluid loss as well as the sensitivity loss in your inner ear hairs.  But illness, infections and head trauma can also cause equilibrium disorders and dizziness.

Diagnose Your Dizziness

It’s important for your doctor to know which type of dizziness you feel.

Lightheadedness:  A feeling that you are about to faint or “pass out.”  Although you may feel dizzy, you do not feel as though you or your surroundings are moving—usually not caused by a serious problem.

Vertigo:  A feeling that you or your surroundings are moving when there is no actual movement—typically a symptom of a more serious, underlying condition.

Common Equilibrium Disorders

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV):  The most common disorder of the inner ear’s vestibular system, BPPV causes brief but intense episodes of vertigo as a result of changing positions of your head (such as sitting up in bed).  Causes of BPPV vary, from migraines and viruses to reaction to drugs (ototoxicity), but treatment is available.

Meniere’s Disease:  A chronic, treatable vestibular disorder caused by abnormally large amounts of endolymph fluid collecting in the ear.  Typically occurs in adults between 40 and 60 years of age and may eventually lead to hearing loss.
For more information about hearing and balance, talk to your hearing healthcare professional.