Balance Disorders

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A young boy on a balance beam

Your Balance Is Critical To Healthy Living

Vertigo, dizziness, and/or a loss of balance are scary experiences. In some cases, they can lead to falls and critical injuries. However, our ability to remain steady on our feet is something most of us take for granted.

Because many balance challenges link to inner ear issues, our team of doctors of audiology is the team of choice for many physicians throughout the area when it comes to dealing with vertigo and balance problems.

We offer state-of-the-art technology, which is able to identify and address balance challenges that only a small number of clinics within the US have available to them. The goal of South Shore Hearing Centers is to identify the cause of your balance issues and develop a quick and effective solution to return to enjoying your normal daily life with greater confidence.

Boy trying to mantain balance on a wooden rail

How Do Your Ears Affect Balance?

Three complex components located inside your inner ear are involved in helping transmit sound to your brain: the semicircular canals, the otolithic organs, and the cochlea. One of those, the semicircular canals, also play a critical role in helping you maintain your balance.

The semicircular canals are made up of three loops, each of which senses movement in a different direction in order to signal a loss of balance. The fluid contained in these loops interacts with hair cells along their walls in order to transmit movement and signal your body to make the necessary adjustment to stay on your feet, similar to the movement of the bubble on a carpenter’s level.

Recognize The Symptoms And Causes Of Balance Issues

Feeling off balance but not dizzy

If you feel out of balance when you are moving or navigating uneven terrain, feeling the necessity to make adjustments or grab onto something to stabilize yourself is a good thing. However, when you feel out of balance, experience dizziness, vertigo, and/or nausea while sitting, standing still, or even lying down, then these are indicators of a balance issue.

Motion sickness, instability, or severe vertigo while inactive often indicate damage or deterioration of inner ear structures. The cause of the damage or deterioration can include various health conditions, like:

  • Labyrinthitis. Inflammation in the labyrinth structure of the inner ear, which can produce tinnitus and hearing loss, stems from some sort of infection. Labyrinthitis is similar to vestibular neuronitis, except the latter does not include hearing loss.
  • Meniere’s Disease is associated with an increase in pressure within the labyrinth structure, usually affecting only one ear, but can affect both ears in rare instances.
  • Perilymph Fistula occurs whenever fluid from the inner ear leaks into the middle ear, usually in association with a severe ear infection, a head injury or head surgery, a birth defect, or an aftereffect of scuba diving
  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a less critical condition related to positional balance but is still a concern due to the risk of injury.
  • Mal de Debarquement Syndrome (MdDS) is the name for the feelings of dizziness or ongoing motion you feel after disembarking from a boat, treadmill, train, plane, etc, even after you have disengaged from those activities.

Diagnosing And Treating Balance Disorders

In order to diagnose and treat balance disorders, our team of experts takes a critical look at its root cause and the severity of the condition. Because our audiologists thoroughly understand the structure and functions of your ears, we connect these disorders to some form of damage, deterioration, or malfunction of your inner ear.

Antibiotics are often prescribed to inflammation-causing infections associated with labyrinthitis, while other medications are necessary in order to help manage the pressure produced by Meniere’s disease. We may prescribe other medications, therapies, and treatments for other balance disorders.

Bed rest and/or restricted activity for a week or two is the most common approach to treating Perilymph Fistula, but a new treatment option, known as a blood patch injection, may also be considered in some cases.

Most cases of BPPV or MdDS and other conditions that cause vertigo respond well to Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT), which is a form of physical therapy that helps desensitize the balance system.

Those included in VRT training learn to adjust to various movements, like standing, sitting, stepping up or down, etc, through a series of simple exercises. Although VRT is not a cure, it makes it possible for patients to move around freely without triggering vertigo, helps them cope with vertigo, and is a successful solution when it comes to preventing balance-related falls.

Group of traveler walking on the log while hiking in the forest

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With hearing loss impacting 1 in 5 of us, the data suggests that at least one special person in our lives are struggling with hearing loss. The challenge is that it's often difficult for these people to admit that they have a challenge with their hearing or be open to seeking help.

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Don’t Take Your Balance For Granted

Keeping your feet is a critical part of staying healthy and avoiding ER visits because you’ve fallen. Vertigo, dizziness, and balance challenges can be indicators that there is something wrong with your inner ear.

If you or a loved one are experiencing dizziness or struggling to stay steady on their feet, contact our balance care experts before the condition becomes more serious.

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