According to the CDC, 1 in 4 adults above 65 years loses balance and falls. This translates to approximately 29 million falls. Close to a million cases result in hospitalization, while 28,000 falls lead to death. The hearing and balance clinic associates some of these falls with lack of balance associated with hearing loss.
Hearing loss can affect your balance because the cochlea and the labyrinth, the two connected parts in the inner ear, are responsible for hearing and balance, respectively. Injuries and infections in the cochlea also affect the labyrinth. Diseases like Meniere’s, affect hearing and balance.
Since the inner ear is responsible for hearing and balance, it is not surprising that dizzy spells and ringing in the ears often accompany the onset of hearing loss. However, balance issues can be unrelated to hearing loss in rare instances.
What Is The Connection Between Balance And Hearing Loss?
It is estimated that for every 10 decibels of hearing loss, the loss of balance increases by 140%. Hearing loss is associated with aging, so is loss of balance. However, dizziness, vertigo, blurred vision, and disorientation affect people of all ages and sometimes have nothing to do with hearing loss.
The inner ears, also known as the vestibular system, are responsible for hearing and balance. The labyrinth, known as the balance system, has three semicircular canals connected to the cochlea, which is responsible for hearing. Fluid buildup in the canals can cause hearing loss and loss of balance.
Since the parts of the ears responsible for hearing and balance are interconnected, it is not surprising that sometimes hearing loss is connected with loss of balance.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMIMvBa8XGs illustrates the connection between the cochlea and the labyrinth.
Causes Of Hearing Loss
Several factors can cause hearing loss in people of different ages.
- Hearing loss is associated with old age. Approximately 50% of people aged 75 years and older have difficulty hearing. Loss of hearing for people this age is associated with the degeneration of the inner ear.
- Prolonged exposure to loud sounds.
- Regular exposure to sounds at your place of work.
- Regular exposure to recreational noises, such as motorcycles, carpentry, and loud music.
- Illnesses, such as meningitis, can result in high fever, which may affect the cochlea.
- Some drugs, like chemotherapy medication, antibiotics, and some antimalarial drugs, can temporarily affect hearing.
Causes Of Loss Of Balance
When you experience dizziness, chances are you have issues with your balance. Several things may be responsible for this.
- Ear infections
- Poor blood circulation
- Chemical imbalances in the brain
- Low or high blood pressure
- Hearing loss
- Inner ear problems
- Head injuries
The inner ears are critical for hearing and body balance. When you experience dizzy spells that affect your ability to move comfortably, your doctor will conduct various tests to find the cause. These include hearing exams, eye movement tests, brain, and head scans, and a test of your posture.
Since there is a connection between hearing and balance, most doctors are hesitant to separate hearing issues from balance problems. When they do not find a connection, they attempt to find other possible causes behind the dizzy spells and unexplained falls.