How the Inner Ear Affects Balance Disorders
Updated: Feb 7
It is not uncommon for people to struggle with dizziness and balance disorders. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders estimates that 40% of the population will experience an issue with balance over the course of their lifetime. While balance disorders can be caused by issues such as blood pressure fluctuations and diabetes, issues with the inner ear are the most common factor. Explore the symptoms, causes, and resulting disorders of inner-ear-related balance disorders.
Symptoms of Inner-Ear-Related Balance Disorders
Symptoms of balance disorders may include dizziness, falling, lightheadedness, visual blurring, and disorientation. Less common symptoms include stomach distress, faintness, and changes in blood pressure or heart rate. The symptoms can be tough to initially track as they may come and go.
How the Inner Ear Affects Balance
Our sense of balance comes from our vestibular system, which consists of three fluid-filled semicircular canals in the inner ear called the labyrinth, microscopic "hairs" and crystals that detect the motion of the fluid, as well as nerves connecting to the brain. The labyrinth helps determine orientation during movement; feeling dizzy after spinning around comes from the fluid in the semicircular canals moving rapidly over the microscopic hairs. If any part of the vestibular system becomes impaired, it can result in a temporary bout of dizziness or a balance disorder.
Balance Disorders Caused by the Inner Ear
Balance disorders can have temporary or easily treatable causes, or they may be the result of a chronic condition. Infections of the inner ear can result in balance issues but can often be treated with antibiotics; labyrinthitis results from an infection or inflammation of the inner ear. Another treatable condition is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, which is caused by the crystals in the inner ear becoming dislodged from their correct position. Chronic conditions, such as Ménière's disease and vestibular neuritis, can be treated by using therapy to help reduce the symptoms.
At High Level Speech & Hearing Center, we specialize in speech, hearing, and balance disorders and have worked hard to serve our local community in New Orleans. We can diagnose and help treat disorders caused by inner ear dysfunction with fall prevention therapy. If you've been suffering from bouts of dizziness and balance issues, schedule an appointment with us today.