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Hearing Loss

Better Hearing Means Better Balance

It is a bit like using your eyes to tell you where you are in space.

Balance and hearing aids

Hearing aids may do more than just help us hear. They may also give us better balance. Imbalance is a concern of millions of people worldwide. Balance can be related to inner ear, visual, neurological, and muscular disorders. While hearing aids cannot cure balance issues, it is just another clue that the parts of the ear (hearing and balance) work more closely than previously thought.

Balance and ears

According to a recent research study from Washington University in St. Louis, ENT Dr. Timothy E. Hullar reports, “We don’t think it’s just that wearing hearing aids makes the person more alert. The participants appear to be using sound information coming through their hearing aids as auditory reference points to help maintain balance.” It is a bit like using your eyes to tell you where you are in space. This study suggests that opening your ears (to sound) also gives you information about balance.”

Research results

Patients maintained their balance over a longer period of time on balance tests using a foam pad. On the more difficult heel-to-toe test, patients remained stable nearly twice as long with hearing aids on. This study was done with a small number of patients. However, results appear to be statistically significant according to Dr. Hullar. (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/lary.24974/abstract)

Sudden hearing loss can be a factor

Balance is sometimes observed in an office setting when patients who are used to wearing two hearing aids are suddenly in a position where they can only use one, such as if a battery dies or if a repair is needed. Sudden sensorineural hearing losses can also contribute to balance issues, though these are often related to the vestibular — the balance — portion of the inner ear.

We can help

If you have questions about how your ears work, or if you would like your ears to work better, please contact your AudigyCertified™ professional. We are “hear” for you.

By Molly Parker, P.C.

Dr. Molly Parker is the owner of Parker Audiology and a graduate of the University of Iowa and A.T. Still. She has been an audiologist in the Quad Cities since 1997. Her background includes diagnostic and balance testing and hearing aid service fittings. She believes that hearing is the main pathway to connecting with others. Professionally, Dr. Parker strives to remain current on research and information that will help your experiences. She is motivated by a job well done. Your personal success provides satisfaction to her because hearing better means you are living a better, fuller life. On a personal note, Dr. Parker enjoys her time away from work to spend with family, sporting events, and traveling.