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How Can an Audiologist Help With Balance Issues?
In addition to tinnitus and hearing loss, one of the difficulties that can arise from problems with the human ear is related to how well we keep our balance. Particularly common with inner ear problems, balance issues can add an extra layer of challenge for someone with hearing loss or may be an obstacle all on their own. If you are experiencing balance issues, then a worthwhile step in getting to the bottom of them may be to meet with an audiologist.
Audiologists are trained specialists in hearing conditions, and this includes balancing difficulties. They can assess you in an appointment and diagnose the cause of your issues with balance, and if the issue is related to your ears, they can often be the ones to provide you with treatment that will remedy it.
When to see an audiologist for balance issues
If you have balance problems, there is no guarantee that they are linked to inner ear issues, and it is wise, if you have other symptoms, to first see your doctor. Assuming that there is not a more immediately concerning cause, the next step will be to see an audiologist. They will run you through a balance evaluation, with the goal being to understand why you are experiencing balance issues.
These evaluations can include three separate tests which are beneficial in diagnosing balance disorders:
- Saccade test: You will be asked to follow a moving target with your eyes, and the movement of your pupils will be monitored to evaluate rapid eye movement.
- Positional test: As the name may suggest, this test involves positioning your head in different orientations to assess responses like dizziness and when they occur.
- Caloric test: A small tube is placed within your ear canal, and water of varying temperatures is run through the tube; the audiologist monitors your eye movement.
After these tests are completed, your audiologist will have a better idea of what is behind your balance issues – and will potentially have vital information advising them on how to treat the issues.
What an audiologist can do for your balance issues
Once an audiologist has studied your results, they will know whether your balance disorder is caused by an ear problem or not, and if it is the case, they may be able to offer you some balance (or vestibular) rehabilitation, a program of head, neck and eye movements that are designed to “re-educate” the body’s sense of balance. They will also be well-placed to refer you on for any treatment that might benefit you but which they may not be qualified to deliver.
Balance rehabilitation itself is most effective for people whose balance problems and dizziness result from head movement and motion sensitivity. These issues are ones that will become clear from the results of the Saccade and Positional tests in particular. It will also be helpful for your audiologist if you are able to explain to them the situations in which you most commonly notice your balance problems appearing.