As we go about our daily lives, maintaining balance is essential. Balance affects our ability to stand, walk, and move throughout the world around us. And balance relies on a complex dynamic between our senses, including our hearing and equilibrium.
For many people experiencing hearing loss, maintaining balance becomes a challenge. After all, your ears don’t just help you to hear—they help you balance, too!
In this article, we’ll explore the connection between hearing loss and balance and discuss some strategies you can use to find your ground once again.
Understanding the Connection Between Hearing and Balance
Our sense of balance is closely linked to the inner ear’s vestibular system. This is the system that helps us with spatial orientation. It’s actually located very close to the cochlea, so it’s no surprise that changes in hearing can affect balance.
Did you know that you actually use sound signals to orient yourself in space? This means that when sounds are muffled or altogether unheard, your spatial orientation can become distorted. This can lead to dizziness, vertigo, and even falls. When your sense of balance is compromised, you may struggle with mobility, confidence, and even emotional well-being. This is why it’s so important to address balance issues as soon as you begin to notice them.
Coping Strategies for Balance Issues
If you’re experiencing balance issues, don’t panic. There are several strategies to cope with balance issues and dramatically improve your quality of life. Let’s discuss a few.
1. Consultation With an Audiologist or ENT Professional
If you notice that you’re having trouble with your balance, the first step is to consult with a professional. Make an appointment with your audiologist or ENT specialist right away. They’ll be able to conduct a thorough evaluation of your symptoms and rule out any underlying causes that may require medical attention.
Often, balance issues are related to hearing issues that can be remedied with the proper treatment. Remember—just as you’d see your primary doctor for an annual physical, it’s important to visit your audiologist regularly.
2. Hearing Aid Adjustments
If you’re a hearing aid wearer, issues with your balance may occur when your hearing aids are not adjusted properly. Your audiologist will be able to help fine-tune your hearing aids so that your ability to perceive sound and your spatial awareness are improved.
3. Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy
Vestibular rehabilitation exercises focus on strengthening your balance system and helping you manage dizziness. This therapy may also help individuals cope with symptoms of vertigo. It does take time, but it can improve your overall quality of life.
Your healthcare provider will tailor vestibular rehabilitation therapy to your unique needs. Often, they’ll give you exercises that you can do at home. Therapy can include balance retraining, stretching and strengthening exercises, and eye movement control.
4. Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques
Balance issues can certainly cause stress, and stress can make your balance issues worse. It’s a vicious cycle. Incorporating mindfulness and relaxation techniques like breathwork, meditation, or aromatherapy can provide support for individuals with balance issues. Many yoga studios offer low-impact classes or classes that are designed specifically for people who have trouble with balance.
And no, you don’t need to be a master meditator or super zen to practice mindfulness. Even taking five minutes a day to relax in an environment that is distraction-free can be beneficial to your mental health.
5. Assistive Devices and Home Modifications
From mobility tools to balance aids, there are many assistive devices on the market that can provide support for individuals with balance issues.
Making modifications to your home can be a big help. This could mean improving your lighting, eliminating tripping hazards, or installing handrails and grab bars.
Embracing a Holistic Approach to Coping With Balance Issues
Ultimately, managing balance issues requires a holistic approach. There’s no one-size-fits-all treatment. What works for someone else may not work for you.
If you’re struggling with your balance, the best thing to do is to seek the advice of a professional. Depending on the cause of your balance issues, you may need to enlist the help of an audiologist, ENT specialist, and physical therapist.
By seeking guidance, incorporating tailored exercises and techniques, and embracing a holistic approach to treatment, you can find your balance once again.
If you’re struggling with your balance and have any questions that you think we can answer, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our trusted team of hearing care professionals at Flex Audiology is always here to support you and offer tailored guidance.
If you’d like to speak with a hearing care professional, you can reach us at our:
We look forward to hearing from you!