A link between the inner ear and brain helps keep the balance when getting out of bed or walking over rough ground. This is called the vestibular system, which contributes to the sense of balance and spatial orientation, mainly for coordinating movement with balance. In fact, hearing and vestibular balance disorders can hit at any age but typically occur as the person ages.
What Are The Common Symptoms Of Vestibular Balance Disorders?
Below are the common symptoms of a vestibular balance disorder:
- Blurred vision
- Feeling off-balance
- Floating-like or as if the world is spinning
- Blurred vision
- Falling or stumbling
On the other hand, the less common symptoms include:
- Changes in the heart’s rhythm
What Are The Common Vestibular Disorders?
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
As the most common cause of positional vertigo, an individual can suddenly feel spinning or swaying. This is because the tiny calcium crystals in one part of the ear move into an area where they shouldn’t be. This causes the inner ear to tell the brain that one is moving when they’re not.
Known as an inner ear infection, labyrinthitis happens when a fragile structure deep inside the ear gets inflamed. In fact, this affects not just balance and hearing but may also include ear pain, pressure, pus or fluid coming from the ear, nausea, and a high fever.
A viral infection somewhere else in the body, like chickenpox or measles, can bring on this disorder, affecting the nerve that sends sound and balance information coming from the inner ear to the brain. The most common symptoms are sudden dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and trouble walking.
An individual with this type of disorder may experience sudden vertigo attacks, hearing loss, fullness in the affected ear, and tinnitus. This can happen when there is too much fluid in the inner ear, all credit to a virus, allergy, or autoimmune reaction. However, the hearing loss worsens and can be permanent in some cases.
Perilymphatic fistula (PLF)
A tear or defect between the middle ear and the fluid-filled inner ear can make a person feel dizzy and may cause some hearing loss. An individual can be born with PLF or from barotrauma (increased pressure in the ear), a head injury, or heavy lifting.
What Are The Treatments For Vestibular Disorders?
With the help of the right doctors trained in balance disorders, they can help work with each patient to create and develop an individualized treatment plan depending on their specific condition. That said, specialists might see patients with conditions in the ear, nose, and throat (otolaryngologists), brain and nervous system (neurologists), and other disciplines.
Moreover, below are treatment plans that patients might undergo. It can be only one or a combination of the following treatment plans:
- Diet and lifestyle changes. Ménière’s disease patients must reduce salt intake so symptoms can be helped. Those with migraine-related dizziness might need to reduce caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and chocolate to benefit from this treatment plan. This also includes those who may experience a drop in blood pressure when standing (orthostatic hypotension), may need to wear compressive stockings, drink more fluids, or undergo postural conditioning.
- Fall prevention. Patients can undergo therapy to prevent falls. In fact, some patients will find a balance aid like a cane or walking stick beneficial. In addition, therapists can discuss assistive devices and home safety to reduce any possible risk of falls at home.
- Home exercise. Most often, exercise has become a vital part of treatment. That said, a physical or occupational therapist can prescribe specialized exercises at a certain pace and a progressive fitness program to reduce stress and increase energy.
- Medications. To help manage balance problems, medications can help those with migrainous vertigo, psychiatric disorders, or Ménière’s disease.
- Surgery. This is an option when medical treatment is ineffective in controlling vertigo and other symptoms caused by vestibular system dysfunction. Keep in mind that peripheral vestibular disorders surgical procedures can either be corrective or destructive. To be specific, corrective surgery’s goal is to repair or stabilize inner ear function, while destructive surgery’s goal is to stop the production of sensory information or prevent its transmission from coming from the inner ear to the brain.
- Talk therapy. Since symptoms from vestibular disorders are invisible and unpredictable, they often contribute to various psychological impacts. That said, counseling might be beneficial to cope with lifestyle changes, depression, guilt, and grief because patients might feel they can no longer meet their own or others’ expectations.
- Vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT). Balance retraining exercises, also called vestibular rehabilitation, can benefit those with the inner ear or central nervous system disorders. Therapists trained to improve balance problems work with patients to design customized balance retraining programs and exercises. Therapy can help compensate for the imbalance, adapt to less balance, and maintain physical activity.
- Canalith repositioning maneuvers. A special VRT can medicate BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo). Often referred to as the Epley maneuver, this treatment involves a series of specifically patterned head and trunk movements to stop symptoms while moving tiny displaced otoliths to an area or a place in the inner ear.
- Positioning procedure. BPPV can benefit from a positioning procedure if BPPV is the cause of the balance disorder since it involves maneuvering the position of the head. In fact, the procedure includes clearing particles from the inner ear canal, as well as depositing them into a different area of the ear, most often to reduce or resolve symptoms. To also improve the condition, the Canalith repositioning procedure can also help.
The Bottom Line
An ENT specialist can perform tests to determine the exact reason for a balance disorder. At Cache Valley Ear, Nose & Throat, they offer Hearing and Balance treatment along with the expected expertise and care required to ensure that every hearing aid offered is individualized. Ultimately, their No-Cost 30-Day Hearing Aid Audition put them to the test like so many others have, and finally find the Better Hearing people are looking for.