Are you familiar with a balance disorder, loss of coordination, or dizziness? Millions of Americans suffer from vertigo every day. The question is, does it make sense to wait to address these problems or seek help right away?
Is there a relationship between hearing problems and falls?
The relationship between balance disorders and hearing loss has long been of interest to the medical community. Is there a relationship between hearing problems, dizziness, and falls? The latest scientific researchers have provided a clear answer to this question. But let’s discuss everything in order.
Our bodies are remarkable and complicated and when it comes to balance it is no exception. The vestibular system is supported by a complex interaction of the following components:
The vestibular system (inner ear) tracks the direction of the body’s movement in space
Eyes provide visual location information
Sensory receptors in muscles and joints provide information about the location of body parts
These systems simultaneously send information to the brain, where it is processed and analyzed. If for some reason, the data is distorted, the brain gets the wrong idea about the position of the body in space. This makes you feel dizzy.
Dizziness is quite common. Virtually every American is faced with such a phenomenon at least once in his or her life. It should be noted right away that disorientation has nothing to do with it. Some people describe dizziness as feeling unwell, unsteady, or even fainting. Others sense the movement of the environment. This state is called Vertigo. Both dizziness and vertigo disrupt the vestibular system and lead to frequent falls.
The causes of vestibular system disorder can be very different. Dr. Zhanneta Shapiro has compiled a list of the most common causes of dizziness:
Hearing problems should be treated separately. Decreased auditory sensitivity directly limits access to auditory signals, which are necessary to perceive the environment. The brain receives less and less information, it needs to analyze and maintain the body in space.
Along with the development of hearing loss, the brain spends additional resources on the restoration and strengthening of other senses. During this time, the cognitive resources required for the balance system to work are reduced, thereby disrupting the maintenance of balance in real-life situations. Thus, dizziness and hearing loss are closely related. Together with hearing problems, the risk of falling increases.
Scientific research by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the National Institute on Aging supports this. The results showed that hearing problems increase the likelihood of losing balance. Even mild hearing loss triples the risk of an accidental fall!
What is the danger?
Many people who experience dizziness often do not pay much attention to the loss of their sense of balance. Most treat it as a temporary problem that, such as a headache, will soon pass.
Vestibular disorder symptoms do more than just interfere with daily tasks. They can cause serious injury and disrutpiton in everyday life! Dizziness is the main cause of accidental falls, with all the ensuing consequences. It’s especially dangerous for the elderly, as many of them may have age-related hearing loss.
People can begin to gradually lose their hearing around the age of 30-40. Over the years, the process only intensifies. 30-35% of people aged 65-75 suffer from hearing impairments, and after 75 years their number is up to 60%. By the age of 80, most people experience significant hearing loss.
According to statistics, accidental falls are the leading cause of accidental death in people over 60. For example, in 2009, more than 18,000 older Americans died from fall injuries. They suffer head injuries or other serious fractures. In the same year, emergency departments across the country recorded about 1,9 million non-fatal injuries. Medical expenses due to accidental falls amount to more than $ 25 billion a year!
This is one of the reasons that balance issues should be looked at right away. A balance risk assessment can be used at any point to see if there is a concern for you.
The treatment for vestibular disorders – the best prevention of accidental falls
More than 30 million Americans suffer from some form of hearing loss. As we have already found out, vertigo and hearing loss are closely related. An untreated hearing problem can lead to a myriad of health and personal safety problems. This means that millions of people are at increased risk of falls and serious injury!
Fall prevention is the domain of audiologists, as hearing loss is one of the main causes of vertigo. Treatment begins with a balance and fall risk assessment. Doctors examine the vestibular system (in the ear), the reactions of the eyes, muscles, and the central nervous system, which make up the vestibular system. Research allows them to find out the root cause of the problem and prescribe the correct vestibular rehabilitation therapy. The main thing is to go to a reliable clinic. For example, Audiology Island uses only the latest specialized equipment for Balance tests.
Hearing loss and the risk of falling are closely related. Therefore, hearing restoration improves the sense of balance by eliminating frequent balance issues. Scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis made this conclusion. A study found that patients with hearing aids performed better on standard balance tests when their hearing aids were turned on.
Daily use of hearing aids will restore your ability to hear external sounds and reduce the risk of accidental falls. It’s especially important for the aging population where a falling can lead to a more serious injury!
Frequent symptoms of dizziness or vertigo are a strong signal to contact an audiologist in order to sort out the problem. Audiology Island has extensive experience in fall risk assessment and treatment for vestibular disorders. You will be in good hands by contacting our clinic!
About Dr Zhanneta Shapiro
Dr Zhanneta Shapiro received her Masters of Science from Brooklyn College in 2005 and completed her Doctorate of Audiology from Florida University in May 2008. Her graduate training was in various hospitals in the tri-state area and a residency period completed at Ear Nose and Throat Associates of New York. [ Learn More ]