Hearing loss can have a huge impact on your ability to hear, and this can have a knock-on effect on your personal and professional life - leading many people to feel socially marginalized, angry at not feeling understood, distrusting of others and much more.
Did you know, however, that hearing loss also has other effects on your body? In fact, hearing loss can severely impact your ability to maintain balance.
In this blog, York Hearing Clinic will look at why hearing loss affects your balance and how hearing aids can help.
How does hearing loss affect balance?
Within the inner ear are three small loops above the cochlea called semicircular canals, as well as two organs known as the utricle and saccule. Just like the cochlea, the semicircular canals, utricle and saccule are filled with liquid and have thousands of microscopic hairs.
The utricle and saccule detect the horizontal and vertical movements of your head, while the semicircular canals recognize tilting movements. When the position of your head changes, the fluid in your inner moves and sensory hair cells relay this information to your brain - providing you with stability and preventing dizziness.
Without these two organs and the semicircular canals, any activity in which your head moves would be nauseating.
Unfortunately, however, when suffering from hearing loss that affects your inner ear, the fluid-filled organs and semicircular canals in your ear will not function properly. This ultimately leads to balance issues, nausea and vertigo.
Want to learn more about how your ears actually work? Read our blog, titled 'How Your Ears Work: Understanding the Anatomy of Your Ears and the Causes of Hearing Loss'.
Can hearing aids help balance?
A study released by Washing University School of Medicine, titled ‘The effect of hearing aids on postural stability’, used tests on 14 elderly people with hearing loss to find out whether their hearing contributed to their sense of balance.
Since the participants did better with hearing aids than without, the study concluded that our ability to hear contributed greatly to our ability to maintain our center of balance.
With hearing aids, the study found that participants were able to balance on a foam pad for 10 seconds longer than those without. Without hearing aids, many of the participants in the study were unable to balance while standing for longer than 20 seconds.
Why do hearing aids help improve balance?
Just as the study found, not only do hearing aids improve your ability to hear and help prevent the symptoms of depression and anxiety that come with hearing loss - they also help to alleviate balance problems.
That’s because hearing aids improve the quality and amount of sound reaching your eardrum, and, in turn, give your brain a better idea of your surroundings. Your ability to hear gives you an idea of the things all around you without having to move, something your eyesight can’t do.
Do you suffer from hearing loss and poor balance but haven’t yet found a solution? Contact York Hearing Clinic today. We would be more than happy to create a hearing aid solution that works for your specific needs.