On January 21, Doctors Leukenga and Whitaker of Hearing and Balance Doctors of Utah spoke to us about balance and how our hearing affects our balance.
They explained that their primary role is to do diagnostic testing for balance which includes dizziness, vertigo and trauma induced imbalance. They use a team approach working with primary physicians, cardiologists, neurologists and other referrals.
Dizziness is the number one problem of patients over 65 that they see. This is often accompanied by vertigo, imbalance and general unsteadiness causing a lack of confidence on your feet. Dizziness causes a feeling of light headedness and vertigo causes a spinning sensation and objects seem to move.
Balance related falls account for more than half of accidental deaths among the elderly. Fifty to sixty percent of reported dizziness in people 65 and older are due to inner ear problems. There are 4 key systems that are involved in balance sensors which are the inner ear, eyes for vision, brain, and joint, muscle and sense of touch. The inner ear has a vestibular system that helps control the eye motion and the postural muscles in the neck and back.
Some of the common disorders that can cause these symptoms are Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) where tiny crystals of calcium carbonate that are a normal part of the inner ear's anatomy, become dislodged and collect in one of the semicircular canals, vestibular neuritis, acoustic neuroma, Meniere's disease and migraine related dizziness.
They stressed that if you have any issues with balance or vertigo you should talk with your doctor. Self-diagnosis and treatment are not a good idea when dealing with these issues. Dr. Luekenga pointed out that 90% of cases where a proper diagnosis is made are treated successfully.