VERTIGO, BALANCE DISORDERS AND DIZZINESS

There is exciting new research into balance issues such as vertigo and chronic dizziness. If you suffer from any kind of balance disorder, you probably already know that these issues can stem from fluid levels in your inner ear. This new research is exploring the possibility that balance disorders could be spotted and maybe even alleviated with MRI magnets!

At Johns Hopkins in 2011, researchers discovered something: inner ear fluid is influenced by the magnetic field of an MRI. Since we have already known for a while that vertigo and other balance disorders can be caused by buildup of fluid in the inner ear, they looked at MRI magnets as a way to potentially treat those conditions.  

MRI magnets can exert a pulling force on the inner ear fluid, and researchers hope that they may be able to manipulate inner ear fluids to relieve the problems caused by inner ear issues.

As it stands, uncomfortable and invasive testing protocols are necessary to diagnose and treat imbalance and dizziness conditions such as vertigo. This makes the painless MRI procedure a welcome development for future diagnosis and care.

The Inner Ear and Balance

Approximately 40% of adults experience episodes of imbalance and dizziness at least once during a lifetime. Sufferers may complain of feelings of vertigo and spinning or dizziness. These episodes may also cause people to feel faint or lightheaded and they may become disoriented, confused, or have blurred vision.

  • If you become dizzy feel unbalanced on repeated occasions, first check with your doctor, who may then refer you to a specialist or audiologist for testing.
  • These symptoms can have different causes. Aside from inner ear fluid disturbance, some medications or even an injury to the head can result in feelings of vertigo or dizziness as well.

When you see an audiologist or specialist, testing may include:

  • An MRI or CT scan
  • Computerized Dynamic Posturography (CDP): a test of balance function and motor control in changing conditions.
  • Electronystagmography (ENT): this test monitors spontaneous eye movements, and includes eye evaluations.
  • Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potential (VEMP) is a test that observes the inner ear’s sensory cells and vestibular nerve to evaluate if they are functioning correctly.

A hearing test may also be part of the visit to your audiologist, to make sure there is no hearing impairment that accompanies the dizziness.

If you have had several dizzy spells or have felt unbalanced, see your general practitioner or audiologist pinpoint the cause.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.

TWO LOCATIONS TO SERVE YOU BETTER

San Mateo

88 N. San Mateo Drive
San Mateo, California, 94401

Phone: (650) 342-9449
Fax: (650) 342-4435
Email: info@calhearing.com

San Carlos

1008 Laurel Street
San Carlos, California, 94070

Phone: (650) 342-9449
Fax: (650) 342-4435
Email: info@calhearing.com

IS TWO ALWAYS BETTER THAN ONE?

When you were diagnosed with hearing loss, was one ear affected more than the other? This can often be the case, and because hearing aids can be expensive, it can be tempting to use just one hearing aid instead of two. But is that a good idea?

The Ears Work Together

Because they are all we can see, we may think that our hearing is done mainly by our two ears, but that isn’t true. Our brains are even more important to hearing and understanding the world around us, and our brains are connected to our ears through auditory nerves. Our brains are the heavyweights, translating noises we hear into sound that means something. Who knew our hearing was so complex? Or that a problem with any one component in the auditory system can cause hearing as a whole to break down.

Even if they are not equally damaged, hearing loss in one ear is quite often accompanied by damage in the other ear as well. Wearing a hearing device on only one side can backfire, because it will support one ear and not the other. The ear that is being helped will probably not decline any further, but the unassisted one might.

Hearing Exercises

Our bodies need regular exercise—without it, our muscles will atrophy and wither away. Regular exercise is important—and this is also true for our brains and our ears. With the progression of hearing loss, sounds can sometimes be heard but not understood. This can be very frustrating and may be the result of a “bad connection” along the auditory nerve between the ears and the brain. Doing “hearing exercises” can slow this progression and help your brain to “re-learn” how to interpret sounds meaningfully.

Your audiologist can give you exercises and other options that could help.

Hearing Well

One way to support good listening comprehension is to make sure your ears are hearing equally. Auditory stimulation is increased, and your brain can work less to understand the noises your ears bring in. Therefore, for any hearing damage and you want the most seamless, effortless listening experience possible, you should wear two hearing aids instead of just one.

Wearing two hearing aids can also save on battery life over wearing just one, on top of being more effective overall. It may also give you the opportunity to wear more discreet (smaller) hearing devices because of the lower power requirements of each hearing aid.

Triangulation

Our ears are fine-tuned to help us not only hear and understand the world around us, but to determine from which direction sound is coming. This can come in handy when we are in danger: we don’t want to run towards something that will hurt us, so we need to know where it is coming from! When both ears hear equally, you can better pinpoint the source of the noise around you. This ability, called “localization” is practical in everyday life, and also necessary for protection. Lopsided hearing makes localization much more difficult.

Wearing hearing aids instead of one are generally happier and more content with their hearing experience, because two hearing aids can reestablish hearing much more efficiently than one. Hearing, listening and understanding depend on more than just our ears, so the more help they have the better.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.