The vestibular system inside your inner ear is one of three systems that your body uses to give a sense of your physical position in space. This means damage to the inner ear can cause more than just hearing loss.
To help us all understand more about how ear conditions can affect our balance, the Ménière’s Society has established Balance Awareness Week which runs this year from 15th–21st September.
Ménière’s Disease is a progressive, long term condition that affects the vestibular system, causing both hearing loss and balance problems. The cause of the condition is unknown (although family history can be a factor in a small percentage of cases), and while it only affects around 0.1% of the population, it’s symptoms can be worrying*.
As the vestibular system is compromised, the brain has to rely on information from the eyes and the body to stay balanced, making those with the condition much more susceptible to dizziness. Indeed, the main symptom of the disorder is attacks of vertigo which can last from a few minutes to a couple of days, coupled with nausea and vomiting. The occurrence of these attacks is largely unpredictable, which can make the disease difficult to manage.
Other vestibular disorders
Besides Ménière’s, there are various other disorders that affect the vestibular system causing loss of hearing, balance problems and dizziness. These include BPPV, labyrinthitis, ototoxicity, perilymph fistula, vestibular migraines and vestibular neuritis, among others.
For more information on these conditions, take a look at the Ménière’s Society website. The society is the only charity registered in the UK that focuses on inner ear disorders and has lots of helpful information and support.
If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, it’s a good idea to consult your GP or come in for a free hearing test:
- Difficulties balancing when standing or walking
- Blurry vision
- A floating sensation or feeling light-headed
Our expert audiologists at The Hearing Care Partnership will be able to assess what’s causing your symptoms and advise you on the best course of action – book online today, call 0800 52 00 546 or pop into your local THCP practice at a time that’s convenient for you.