Balance issues and hearing loss

Posted by joangela @joangela, Thu, Sep 5 2:44am

I fall too often. A few times a year. Yesterday I was walking into the grocery store and fell on the concrete in an unlevel area right in front of the entrance. Does anybody else have issues with balance and falling that they attribute to hearing loss? What are your preventative measures?

The balance and auditory nerves are side by side, even twisted together. THE, and I do mean, THE fix is to learn to use your third balance system, proprioception. Everyone loses some balance function in their inner ear as they age, but some disease affect both hearing and balance, like Meniere's. When the little "gyroscope" in your inner ear doesn't work correctly, you automatically start to use vision for balance, but that is a really bad thing. Every time you move your head, move from one place to another, drive around a corner, you lose your focal point. So, it's time to learn to pay attention to what your feet tell you. In simple terms, proprioception is what makes you know just how far to lean into the wind when you're standing on a rocky point.

The way to teach yourself is to start by standing, in your sock feet, feet fairly close together, with your eyes closed. At first, you'll begin to wobble pretty quickly, so you need to start in a hallway or with someone next to you. Once you can stand without wavering, walk a short distance with your eyes closed, again, in a hallway to start with. Do this for 5 or 10 minutes every day, and you'll see a real improvement in your balance within a couple of weeks. As you gain skills, wear shoes, which makes it harder for you to "feel" your feet giving your information. Everywhere you walk, think about what your feet tell you. You may find that you often stare at the surface in front of you while you're walking. Instead, check the area ahead of you to make certain there's nothing to trip over, and walk a short distance without looking at the surface, then check again for obstacles, and walk another short distance. You will be surprised at how much there is to see! You need to work on this every single day, until it becomes natural. Walking in low light situations, including outside, will help reinforce learning.

It's really important to work on this every day–evenings are best, because you can turn out all the lights before going to bed and walk through your house, where you're familiar with where things are. This is called VRT (Vestibular Rehab Therapy). I had done it for several years when it became necessary to tear out much of both of our bathrooms due to dry rot. Since there were old counters, toilets, tile, etc. and boxes of new stuff in the hallway and living room, I quit walking in the dark for two weeks…and lost my ability to know where I was in space. Good news was that after only a few intense sessions I was stable again. You'll find that not only do you have far more confidence in moving about (including driving), but you will have much better ability to know where things are in relation to your hands. No more slicing your fingers instead of the veggies! Because I still do instream river surveys in spite of being 77, I also try to dress or undress standing, without touching the counter or dresser beside me. You do want to have something stable nearby in case you begin to lose your balance. This is a special test for women when they wear pantyhose! You'll find that it's harder to have good balance when you first wake up, but things improve pretty quickly.

I can't begin to say how much learning to use proprioception improved my life! I've been doing it for nearly 40 years. In addition, anything you do that challenges your vestibular system, like working off a ladder, will improve your balance for a couple of days. For me, it means that cleaning gutters (which no one in their right mind ever wants to do) has the benefit of making it possible for me to wade and fish without needing to use a wading staff…for a couple of days.

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I was falling and heavily. Also knocking into things. Doorways were not wide enough. I was flicked off by my PC many times between 2002 and 2012. Things finally escalated in 2015 and I was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma. Having that mental challenge that now I had a caterpillar in my head helped.
Now I have trained myself to look ahead. If I want to look at something I stop and turn. I guess I'm a fast moving robot. Each position and action is separate. Now I take a tumble about twice a year.
I also had bilateral cataract surgery so vision improved.
If I have to go out in the dark I take two torches or flashlights.
Hope those few hints help cos it sure hurts when we tumble

Liked by joangela

REPLY
@joyces

The balance and auditory nerves are side by side, even twisted together. THE, and I do mean, THE fix is to learn to use your third balance system, proprioception. Everyone loses some balance function in their inner ear as they age, but some disease affect both hearing and balance, like Meniere's. When the little "gyroscope" in your inner ear doesn't work correctly, you automatically start to use vision for balance, but that is a really bad thing. Every time you move your head, move from one place to another, drive around a corner, you lose your focal point. So, it's time to learn to pay attention to what your feet tell you. In simple terms, proprioception is what makes you know just how far to lean into the wind when you're standing on a rocky point.

The way to teach yourself is to start by standing, in your sock feet, feet fairly close together, with your eyes closed. At first, you'll begin to wobble pretty quickly, so you need to start in a hallway or with someone next to you. Once you can stand without wavering, walk a short distance with your eyes closed, again, in a hallway to start with. Do this for 5 or 10 minutes every day, and you'll see a real improvement in your balance within a couple of weeks. As you gain skills, wear shoes, which makes it harder for you to "feel" your feet giving your information. Everywhere you walk, think about what your feet tell you. You may find that you often stare at the surface in front of you while you're walking. Instead, check the area ahead of you to make certain there's nothing to trip over, and walk a short distance without looking at the surface, then check again for obstacles, and walk another short distance. You will be surprised at how much there is to see! You need to work on this every single day, until it becomes natural. Walking in low light situations, including outside, will help reinforce learning.

It's really important to work on this every day–evenings are best, because you can turn out all the lights before going to bed and walk through your house, where you're familiar with where things are. This is called VRT (Vestibular Rehab Therapy). I had done it for several years when it became necessary to tear out much of both of our bathrooms due to dry rot. Since there were old counters, toilets, tile, etc. and boxes of new stuff in the hallway and living room, I quit walking in the dark for two weeks…and lost my ability to know where I was in space. Good news was that after only a few intense sessions I was stable again. You'll find that not only do you have far more confidence in moving about (including driving), but you will have much better ability to know where things are in relation to your hands. No more slicing your fingers instead of the veggies! Because I still do instream river surveys in spite of being 77, I also try to dress or undress standing, without touching the counter or dresser beside me. You do want to have something stable nearby in case you begin to lose your balance. This is a special test for women when they wear pantyhose! You'll find that it's harder to have good balance when you first wake up, but things improve pretty quickly.

I can't begin to say how much learning to use proprioception improved my life! I've been doing it for nearly 40 years. In addition, anything you do that challenges your vestibular system, like working off a ladder, will improve your balance for a couple of days. For me, it means that cleaning gutters (which no one in their right mind ever wants to do) has the benefit of making it possible for me to wade and fish without needing to use a wading staff…for a couple of days.

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joyces, that sounds like good advice. My balance issues are not that severe but I did find that yoga improved my balance.
Tony in Michigan

Liked by joangela

REPLY
@muffincat

I was falling and heavily. Also knocking into things. Doorways were not wide enough. I was flicked off by my PC many times between 2002 and 2012. Things finally escalated in 2015 and I was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma. Having that mental challenge that now I had a caterpillar in my head helped.
Now I have trained myself to look ahead. If I want to look at something I stop and turn. I guess I'm a fast moving robot. Each position and action is separate. Now I take a tumble about twice a year.
I also had bilateral cataract surgery so vision improved.
If I have to go out in the dark I take two torches or flashlights.
Hope those few hints help cos it sure hurts when we tumble

Jump to this post

I to have an AN but am on a wait and see program. I have been dizzy with vertigo for years and they just now found the tumor. I have done vestibular therapy for years and am going again although I can do it at home. I think it helps but some days I can't get out of bed. Pounding in my ear drives me nuts. I use a cane when out of the house because when I am in open spaces I get even wobblier. Falling is not an option with osteoporosis so I try to move as much as possible.

Liked by joangela

REPLY
@joyces

The balance and auditory nerves are side by side, even twisted together. THE, and I do mean, THE fix is to learn to use your third balance system, proprioception. Everyone loses some balance function in their inner ear as they age, but some disease affect both hearing and balance, like Meniere's. When the little "gyroscope" in your inner ear doesn't work correctly, you automatically start to use vision for balance, but that is a really bad thing. Every time you move your head, move from one place to another, drive around a corner, you lose your focal point. So, it's time to learn to pay attention to what your feet tell you. In simple terms, proprioception is what makes you know just how far to lean into the wind when you're standing on a rocky point.

The way to teach yourself is to start by standing, in your sock feet, feet fairly close together, with your eyes closed. At first, you'll begin to wobble pretty quickly, so you need to start in a hallway or with someone next to you. Once you can stand without wavering, walk a short distance with your eyes closed, again, in a hallway to start with. Do this for 5 or 10 minutes every day, and you'll see a real improvement in your balance within a couple of weeks. As you gain skills, wear shoes, which makes it harder for you to "feel" your feet giving your information. Everywhere you walk, think about what your feet tell you. You may find that you often stare at the surface in front of you while you're walking. Instead, check the area ahead of you to make certain there's nothing to trip over, and walk a short distance without looking at the surface, then check again for obstacles, and walk another short distance. You will be surprised at how much there is to see! You need to work on this every single day, until it becomes natural. Walking in low light situations, including outside, will help reinforce learning.

It's really important to work on this every day–evenings are best, because you can turn out all the lights before going to bed and walk through your house, where you're familiar with where things are. This is called VRT (Vestibular Rehab Therapy). I had done it for several years when it became necessary to tear out much of both of our bathrooms due to dry rot. Since there were old counters, toilets, tile, etc. and boxes of new stuff in the hallway and living room, I quit walking in the dark for two weeks…and lost my ability to know where I was in space. Good news was that after only a few intense sessions I was stable again. You'll find that not only do you have far more confidence in moving about (including driving), but you will have much better ability to know where things are in relation to your hands. No more slicing your fingers instead of the veggies! Because I still do instream river surveys in spite of being 77, I also try to dress or undress standing, without touching the counter or dresser beside me. You do want to have something stable nearby in case you begin to lose your balance. This is a special test for women when they wear pantyhose! You'll find that it's harder to have good balance when you first wake up, but things improve pretty quickly.

I can't begin to say how much learning to use proprioception improved my life! I've been doing it for nearly 40 years. In addition, anything you do that challenges your vestibular system, like working off a ladder, will improve your balance for a couple of days. For me, it means that cleaning gutters (which no one in their right mind ever wants to do) has the benefit of making it possible for me to wade and fish without needing to use a wading staff…for a couple of days.

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Thank you. I will try those wonderful suggestions.

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Everyone here has good advice. I have osteoporosis as well, so it is extremely important that I get the best handle on this as possible.

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@sarasally2

I to have an AN but am on a wait and see program. I have been dizzy with vertigo for years and they just now found the tumor. I have done vestibular therapy for years and am going again although I can do it at home. I think it helps but some days I can't get out of bed. Pounding in my ear drives me nuts. I use a cane when out of the house because when I am in open spaces I get even wobblier. Falling is not an option with osteoporosis so I try to move as much as possible.

Jump to this post

When I first had serious problems with Meniere's, it was such a HUGE balance/vertigo/pukefest issue that the hearing loss with tinnitus was a side issue. I was in my early 40s, and the disease became a problem when I quit taking birth control pills (i.e., hormones)–abnormally low hormone levels are the single trigger that causes Meniere's to cause big trouble for me. Even though I was a very active amateur classical musician and had to give up both playing in groups and going to concerts, I was very occupied with the struggle to stay upright. I had crises of severe vertigo (non-stop vomiting, inability to move from wherever I went down) that lasted 12 hours or more–as often as three times a week. I was able to continue to work at a demanding job managing a publishing company that was, in the best of times, often 60-70 hours a week, only because I could work any time I was able to be upright. During those four years, we never missed a monthly magazine deadline or were late getting a book to press, but it was a struggle. I had crises at work, on planes, on wilderness rivers, at fishing lodges, in restaurants…just about in every place you'd never ever want to have one.

The ENT who diagnosed me patted me on the hand and said, "now, now, dearie, just quit your silly job, stay in bed, and take Valium." If I had followed his rotten advice, I probably would have committed suicide, or, at best, died long ago from osteoporosis complications! There were several problems with his advice. First, my daughter was in college (read: $$$$) so I needed income. Second, I've always felt that any time sleeping is time that should be productive, so it would have been a serious change. Third, I soon learned that Valium and similar drugs did nothing to lessen the nausea and had lingering aftereffects that spoiled the burst of energy I always had following a crisis. Both my primary doc and I knew by then that hormone levels played a huge role in the hell of Meniere's for me. Since we fished together and he knew how important it was to be to be outdoors and active, he was the support system I needed. We tried lots of HRT that was considered safe for someone in their 40s, but none of it was enough. It took four years to finally find a good program, and, once I started taking larger doses of HRT, I quit having crises.

Then, it was time for intensive vestibular rehab. In less than a month, I was far, far better and able to begin to get back into life. Because I lived an extremely active life with lots of activities (hiking, wading rivers, rowing boats, maintaining houses in town and at the coast with lots of yard work and exterior maintenance), I didn't develop osteoporosis. Although I always fear falling, I seldom actually fall, and I still hike miles along a wild stream in a steep canyon in order to do fisheries data collection–often all alone with zero cell reception.

If you have osteoporosis, you do need to be very careful of staying safe…but you still can teach yourself to have greatly improved balance. Once you've done that, you should be able to move with confidence and be able to participate more in life.

I need to grab a quick snack and go unload the 458 loaves of bread I loaded into totes and then into the Backpack for Kids van yesterday 110 miles away at the Dave's bread warehouse. I've got a load of laundry in the washer which will be ready to hang out to dry as soon as I get home, at which time I either need to tackle mowing an acre of grass or a few hours painting part of the exterior of this house…before I drive 40 miles to the largest town nearby for a Watershed Council meeting. Both fall Chinook and crabs are waiting to be caught, so it's important to get the chores done so that I can hitch up my boat and go play!

Liked by joangela

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I am "older" and have hearing loss, wear bifocals with limited, uncorrected vision in one eye. This combination creates a trifecta of balance and spatial issues for me. A couple of years ago I began participating in Tai Chi for Arthritis & Fall Prevention. This is a gentle form "martial-arts"(slow motion) where I've learned, among other things, to walk correctly meaning upright, shifting my weight to one foot before taking a step with the other, always walking heel-toe and recognize my Dantian as the center of my balance. You learn and repeat a sequence of specific movements that improve balance, tone leg and core muscles and increase self-awareness of body movement. This form is gentle, easy to learn and easily practiced at home. Find a certified instructor and try it for six weeks.

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@mike55124

I am "older" and have hearing loss, wear bifocals with limited, uncorrected vision in one eye. This combination creates a trifecta of balance and spatial issues for me. A couple of years ago I began participating in Tai Chi for Arthritis & Fall Prevention. This is a gentle form "martial-arts"(slow motion) where I've learned, among other things, to walk correctly meaning upright, shifting my weight to one foot before taking a step with the other, always walking heel-toe and recognize my Dantian as the center of my balance. You learn and repeat a sequence of specific movements that improve balance, tone leg and core muscles and increase self-awareness of body movement. This form is gentle, easy to learn and easily practiced at home. Find a certified instructor and try it for six weeks.

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Mike, you make your version of Tai Chi sound very doable and very helpful. I had a very aggressive Tai Chi instructor about 15 years ago and hated it. I will look for an instructor of your type of Tai Chi and give it a try. Thank you for your post.

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Hi Alice, seek out an instructor who follows Dr. Paul Lam's Tai Chi for arthritis and Tai Chi for beginners. You can watch Dr. Lam's class instructions for the first movements on YouTube at no cost. He has many videos on YouTube and you'll see how gentle the movements are. "Faster is not necessarily better." Good health to you!

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@mike55124

Hi Alice, seek out an instructor who follows Dr. Paul Lam's Tai Chi for arthritis and Tai Chi for beginners. You can watch Dr. Lam's class instructions for the first movements on YouTube at no cost. He has many videos on YouTube and you'll see how gentle the movements are. "Faster is not necessarily better." Good health to you!

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Mike, thanks for the further info on your Tai Chi experience. My current trainer has not heard of it, so I'll follow your suggestion to view it on YouTube first and see what I can do. Thanks again, Alice

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I also find Tai Chi very helpful. My Tai Chi instructor takes a very gentle approach. He has learned from very eminent teachers in the US and China, and won National and International competitions. . Look at DCtaichi on UTube to see what it looks like. I hope you find a good instructor.

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Wow! When I was 30 years younger I trained in Shorin Ryu karate. It looks like you're in Tai Chi martial arts training? Not for older students like me.

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@mike55124

Wow! When I was 30 years younger I trained in Shorin Ryu karate. It looks like you're in Tai Chi martial arts training? Not for older students like me.

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I’m 66. The Tai Chi I am taking is described by my teacher as internal or adult martial arts. It’s slow and gentle.

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Just my speed. Sorry, I must have pulled up the wrong videos. I'm still older than you. 😎

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