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Is My Terrible Balance a Result From Inner Ear Problems?

When you think of the role of your ears, the first aspect you probably think of is hearing. Beyond auditory function, however, the ear plays a vital role in keeping you upright. Let’s consider the anatomy of the ear that affects balance, how you might be personally affected by a balance disorder, and what you can do if you find yourself tipping or swaying through life.

is_my_terrible_balance_a_result_of_inner_ear_problems_1The Anatomy of Balance

The fluid filled cavity of the inner ear consists of three semicircular canals containing nerve endings. As the head moves in different directions, the fluid touches different nerve endings which send a message to the brain (and muscles throughout the body) of precise movement. Both ears are simultaneously sending these messages to the central nervous system. When messages from both ears align, the body can achieve balance.

Signs You May Need an Inner Ear Test

When the message sent by one ear is weakened by a virus or other ailment, the communication sent by both ears may not coincide and the person may experience balance issues. Dizziness, feeling as if the room is spinning, nausea and imbalancewhile moving can indicate an infection or other issue in the inner ear. Short bouts of vertigo brought on by lying down or bending over may also be a sign of a medical condition in the ear. Other symptoms can include hearing a ringing sound, trouble seeing, and feeling disoriented. If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these issues, it may be time to get an appointment for a balance evaluation.

Finding a Balance Solution

As with any ailment, the possible causes are vast. Working with an experienced physician is essential to finding the proper diagnosis and treatments. The doctor will determine whether ear issues are caused by a virus, bacteria, or are associated with other aspects such as ear pressure or inner-ear fluid problems. Often, Videonystagmography Testing (VGN) will help determine whether there is equal functionality of both ears. The patient receiving VGN testing wears goggles allowing infrared cameras to track eye movements. Examining eye movements during a series of examinations allows the doctor to confirm proper functionality of the vestibular system in each ear.

After determining the exact cause of inner ear balance dysfunction, your physician will guide you on the steps to recovery. Treatment can range from antibiotics, antiviral medicine, and nausea suppressants to vestibular rehabilitation exercises to retrain the body to find balance.

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