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Hearing Loss and Balance Problems

There’s nothing more terrifying than being unsteady on your feet. While everyone feels lightheaded from time to time or experiences the occasional “dizzy spell,” persistent balance issues, including vertigo, feeling faint, or feeling like you may tip over, should be cause for concern.

While hearing loss does not necessarily cause imbalance, it often accompanies balance problems. Presenting together, these two symptoms can signify a more serious underlying health concern.

Your ears are an integral part of the system that regulates balance. If you are experiencing hearing loss—or any other issue that involves the inner ear—then your balance will likely be off, too. Even if your primary complaint is hearing loss, you should also take note of any balance-related symptoms you’re experiencing, in order to fully and properly address any health concerns with a medical professional.

The Relationship Between Hearing Loss and Balance Problems

One of the major culprits of hearing loss and balance problems is inner ear infection. A variety of issues can affect the inner ear structure called the labyrinth (which gets its name because it resembles an intricate maze). The labyrinth is delicate and complex, filled with canals and organs, which control balance. It also houses the cochlea, which controls hearing.

Here are the most common inner ear issues that contribute to hearing loss and balance problems:

  • Labyrinthitis is an inner ear infection or inflammation of the labyrinth structure and can lead to both hearing loss and imbalance at the same time. It is often associated with an upper respiratory infection, such as the flu.

  • Ménière's disease causes vertigo, hearing loss, tinnitus, and a feeling of fullness in the ear. It may be associated with a change in fluid volume within parts of the labyrinth, but the cause or causes are still unknown.

  • Vestibular neuronitis is an inflammation of the vestibular nerve, is caused by a virus, and results in vertigo.

  • Perilymph fistula causes imbalance that usually increases with activity and is accompanied by dizziness and nausea. It happens when inner ear fluid leaks into the middle ear and can follow head injury, extreme air pressure changes, ear surgery, or chronic ear infections. Some people are even born with perilymph fistula.

In addition to ear infections, blood circulation problems, head injury, or tumors can also cause hearing loss accompanied by balance problems.

Determining the correct reason you’re experiencing balancing problems accompanied by hearing loss requires the skill and experience of an ENT. At Marvel Clinic, our staff of medical professionals can test your hearing and help evaluate the underlying cause for your symptoms.

Give us a call at 931-230-7056 to schedule an appointment. Taking care of these issues now will restore your health, overall quality of life, and help prevent long-term or permanent hearing loss or other complications in the future.

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