Hearing Aids Can Improve Your Sense of Balance

In Hearing Aids by Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A

Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A

When it comes to our balance, hearing, and sight are two crucial senses. Both of these senses assist us in orienting ourselves and providing context for our consciousness. If you’ve ever tried to move in the dark after turning off a light, you know how losing a sense can make it challenging to stay balanced. You’re forced to rely on your other senses to stay upright if you can’t see. Hearing aids, according to scientists, could make a significant impact in helping someone retain balance if they have a hearing loss.

How Does Our System of Balance Work?

Thanks to our balance system, you can stand, walk, run, and move without falling. Your brain receives impulses from your eyes, inner ear, muscles, and joints. These signals assist you in maintaining your equilibrium. 

The vestibular system is a signaling system responsible for keeping us on our feet. It comprises three loops of semicircular canals in the inner ear. One canal detects up-and-down movement, while the other detects movement from side to side. The third canal detects tilting movements. Hair cells and fluid are contained within each canal and move in tandem with your actions. Your auditory nerve then sends impulses from your hair cells to your brain, which tells you where you are in space.

Inner ear abnormalities might cause balance issues. When you’re not moving, parts of your inner ear tell your brain where your head is. When you move forward or up and down, they send signals to your brain. You preserve your balance using this information, as well as what you see and feel. If you have balance issues or are dizzy, you should consult a doctor. Your doctor could recommend that you have your balance checked.

The Science of Hearing & Balance

According to research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, enhancing hearing appears to enhance balance in older persons with hearing loss. When patients with hearing aids in both ears had their hearing aids switched on, they fared better on conventional balance tests than when they had them off.

The study, published in the journal The Laryngoscope, comprised just 14 persons ranging from 65 to 91. Although it’s only a small study, it establishes that helpful information, distinct from the inner ear’s balancing system, contributes to body stability. The study backs up the theory that increasing hearing through hearing aids or cochlear implants can assist elderly individuals in avoiding falling.

“We don’t think it’s just that using hearing aids makes a person more attentive,” said senior author Timothy E. Hullar, MD, of the School of Medicine’s Department of Otolaryngology. “The participants appeared to use the sound information provided by their hearing aids as auditory reference points or landmarks to aid with balance maintenance.”

Whether wearing hearing aids or not, several of the participants maintained stability on the foam pad for at least 30 seconds (which is considered normal for a healthy adult). However, when hearing aids were worn, individuals who had more trouble with balance in this test did better. And in the more challenging balance test, the improvement was even more noticeable.

Your Hearing is Valuable

Balance testing might help you in determining the source of your issues. The examinations will reveal where the issues in your ears are. Some tests can be performed in your doctor’s office or the hospital. 

Hearing aids, as previously said, can improve our spatial awareness and safety. Hearing aid users are less anxious and paranoid, and they spend less time worrying about their surroundings. Hearing aids appear to help combat the onset of these problems or alleviate the symptoms, according to studies associating hearing loss and mental illnesses such as dementia and depression.

Hearing aids may help you or a loved one regain a sense of balance and safety if you or they suffer from hearing loss. Please book an appointment with us today to learn more about how hearing aids can benefit you.