Relations Between Hearing Loss and Vertigo
When a person suffers from hearing loss problems, it doesn’t only affect their hearing ability and ability to comprehend speech. It can also trigger various physical and mental health conditions in a person. Hearing loss problems can occur in a person at any stage of their life. It mostly happens due to old age, as the hearing cells in the inner ear get damaged with time. But there can be other reasons for a person to fall victim to hearing loss problems, such as sudden exposure to loud sounds, genetic problems, accidents, etc.
Of all the problems hearing loss can cause someone, vertigo or balance issues can be one. As the sense of our balance is located within our cochlea, and this is the same location inside the inner ear where you will find the auditory nerves. If you get hearing loss as a consequence of a head or ear injury, then it is normal to experience issues with your sense of balance, or in other words, fall victim to vertigo.
Actually, people who have hearing loss problems often report that they are having feelings of dizziness and even experiencing an increase in falls. But let’s at first see, what vertigo actually is before diving into the relationship between vertigo and hearing loss problems.
What Is Vertigo?
Vertigo can be characterized by a feeling of dizziness, nausea, a loss of balance, and a feeling that either you or your whole surroundings are spinning. Vertigo can be caused by different conditions, and the most common type of vertigo is known as ‘benign paroxysmal positional vertigo’ or the ‘BPPV.’
BPPV is generally mild and rarely serious. If someone has BPPV, they might have occasional episodes of dizziness, balance issues, or they might feel as though the room is spinning around them. Even though the precise triggers for these conditions vary, normally the root cause is a sudden and specific change in the position of one’s head. Vertigo can also trigger if you stand suddenly from either a sitting or reclining position.
Sudden head movements can disrupt the balance of the vestibular labyrinth, which is a series of canals that are located in the inner ear. The canals contain a certain fluid and tiny hair-like cells that monitor the rotation of the head. Otolith organs that are also located in the inner ear monitor the head’s movement right to left and up to down. The otolith organs contain tiny crystals, which control the relationship of the body to gravity. Sudden head movements can cause the crystals to become dislodged, resulting in feelings of dizziness and vertigo.
Even though BPPV can happen any time to a person, it mostly happens when a person grows old, especially after someone becomes 50. Also, when a person goes through hearing loss problems due to damage in the inner ear and its balance, one might occasionally feel the mentioned dizziness and fall victim to BPPD or vertigo.
Connection of Hearing Loss Problems with Vertigo
As mentioned earlier, our balance system mainly relies on the labyrinth, which is a maze of bone and tissue in our inner ear. The cochlea is inside the labyrinth, where the hearing nerves are located. The otolithic organs and the canals near the cochlea are responsible for our sense of balance. And this is where our body senses movement.
Even though there are many factors that can lead you to face vertigo or balance problems, it is known that hearing loss can cause balance disorders. Problems with the inner ear that can be responsible for hearing loss can also lead to balance problems, dizziness, and vertigo. Our ears are responsible for more than just hearing. They hold the vestibular system, so when you have hearing loss, you can experience balance problems as well.
Vertigo or other balance disorders don’t always go hand in hand with hearing loss. You can still have hearing loss problems if you haven’t ever experienced a problem with your balance. Or you could have vertigo, or feel dizziness without having hearing loss problems. If you face hearing loss problems that are the result of an injury in your ear or head, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention, so that you don’t face any additional problems with falls or balance in the future.
If you have experienced sudden hearing loss, and you have since started having problems with your balance or dizziness, then you might have ‘Ménierè's disease’. Ménierè's disease is another ear condition that affects the inner ear and the vestibular system. This system helps you to maintain your sense of balance. This disease causes fluid build-up in the inner ear, and then, part of the cochlea becomes swollen. This later leads to feelings of dizziness, fullness, and fluctuating hearing loss.
Vertigo mainly occurs due to the loss of balance in your cochlea, which is totally correlated with loss of hearing ability. By gaining back some of your hearing ability, you can easily maintain the balance to some extent. You can go for various measures such as using good quality hearing aids, cochlear implants, etc., to take care of your hearing health and gain your hearing ability back. It will also help you to maintain the balance between your senses and keep you safe from sudden dizziness, or in other words, vertigo.