Does Hearing Loss Cause Balance Disorders?

By: A. DiMario
Hearing loss doesn’t cause balance disorders on its own, however problems with the inner ear that are responsible for hearing may also disrupt your vestibular system.  There seems to be little doubt that hearing loss, tinnitus, and imbalance are related to inner ear problems. Unfortunately, research has not determined the exact nature of these relations nor how they interact.
Dizziness, unsteadiness, blurred vision, disorientation, confusion, faintness and vertigo are all symptoms that may indicate a balance disorder. A balance disorder could also be a symptom of other problems. Over 7 million American adults report some sort of chronic balance issue.
A structure in the inner ear called the labyrinth (named for its maze-like characteristics) is responsible for the body’s sense of balance. The labyrinth consists of complex tissue and bone. The vestibular system works in tandem with your visual system to let the body know its position relative to the earth horizontally and vertically, that way you can coordinate your movements properly.
You may also find that certain movements make you feel dizzier, for example, turning your head quickly, bending down, or walking on uneven surfaces. Because of your dizziness, you might have stopped moving in ways that make your dizziness worse. By stopping normal movement your recovery will take longer. You might also experience neck stiffness, headaches, muscle stiffness or tiredness because you have stopped moving naturally.
Remember even if hearing loss is your primary complaint, be sure to also tell your hearing health provider about any imbalance or tinnitus you may have experienced. Being aware of your symptoms will help the specialist determine the most appropriate testing and/or treatment for you.

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