It can be extremely disconcerting to feel unbalanced and dizzy. If you suffer from balance disorders, then it’s a strong indication that there’s something amiss in your ear. Here we look at five common ear problems that are associated with lack of balance and the best ways to combat them.
If you’re struggling with balance issues, book an appointment at one of our hearing care centres in Sussex. Our team of fully qualified audiologists will be able to diagnose and treat any ear infection you may be suffering from.
1. Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is one of the lesser known reasons for suffering from balance issues. As our ears are in charge of balancing the body, suffering from hearing loss can lead to you feeling off balance.
Hearing loss can be put down to a variety of causes which basically fall into three categories:
- Conductive hearing loss (problems with the ear canal, eardrum or middle ear)
- Sensorineural hearing loss (problems of the inner ear or nerve-related)
- Mixed hearing loss (a combination of these)
Treatment will largely depend on the underlying cause, so booking an appointment with an audiologist to see if you need hearing aids is essential to diagnosing hearing problems and treating the issue. The longer it’s left, the stronger chance you can suffer permanent damage or permanent hearing loss. Hearing aids are usually the best way to deal with hearing loss.
This is an inner ear infection, causing inflammation of the labyrinths, or little channels, within the inner ear.
Symptoms you may experience include constant dizziness and vertigo. Labyrinthitis ear infections can usually be treated by using a combination of self-help techniques and medication:
- It’s important to avoid becoming dehydrated, so drink plenty of water, little and often.
- Rest up in bed to avoid falling over and injuring yourself
- Avoid bright lights and alcohol
- Keep stress to a minimum
If symptoms persist, your GP may prescribe a range of medications depending on their severity.
For chronic labyrinthitis, vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) can help. These are exercises to retrain your brain and nervous system to compensate for abnormal signals coming from the vestibular system, a part of the inner ear.
3. Middle Ear Infection (otitis media)
Many cases of middle ear infection (otitis media) can contribute to feelings of imbalance and vertigo, as well as ear pain. It can affect one or both ears and often they are caused by a viral infection but most of these ear infection symptoms clear up within a few days.
Over the counter pain killers, like paracetamol or ibuprofen, would normally suffice in easing any discomfort. Antibiotics aren’t usually prescribed as they don’t treat a bacterial or viral infection, although a short course of antibiotic ear drops may be recommended by your GP.
4. Ménière’s Disease
Ménière’s Disease is a condition of the ear that may cause:
- noise in the ear
- hearing loss
Although no one knows of its exact causes or a complete cure, Ménière’s Disease is associated with poor fluid drainage in the ear which causes a fluid buildup, immune system disorder, allergies, migraines, and even viral infections like meningitis, or where there is family history of the disease.
It can be treated with medication prescribed by your GP to relieve nausea and vomiting, or antihistamines which can also help with vertigo. It’s best to get medication quickly because this ear trouble can be unpredictable and distressing for the sufferer. Your GP may offer you other support, such as counselling or relaxation therapy, like yoga or breathing techniques. There are also support groups, like the Ménière’s Society.
Tinnitus is mostly associated with persistent and irritating noise in the ear which can cause trouble hearing and lead to a loss of balance. It can be associated with a number of underlying causes, such as:
- Age-related hearing loss
- Inner ear damage, resulting from repeated exposure to loud noise
- A build-up of ear wax
- Middle ear infections
- Ménière’s disease (see above)
Although there is no outright cure and no medication to treat it, the good news is that the condition is manageable. Prevention is certainly the best option and this can be achieved by protecting your ears from noise damage, using earplugs or muffs, treating any ear infections quickly, exercising regularly and controlling blood pressure.
Book a hearing test
With any balance disorder causes, while they persist, it’s best to avoid driving or operating machinery. Above all, if you are worried about your balance and are experiencing ongoing symptoms, seek medical advice.
If you’d like to get your ears checked over for hearing loss and any potential issues, book a hearing assessment in Sussex at South East Hearing Care Centres. Our team of experienced audiologists have a wealth of knowledge and experience dealing with all types of ear disorders.