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Adults with untreated hearing loss experience a 30-40% faster decline in cognitive abilities.
Adults with untreated hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia. Essentially, the researchers said, hearing loss seemed to speed up age-related cognitive decline
People with mild hearing loss (25 dB) are 3 times more likely to have a history of falling. Every additional 10 decibels of hearing loss increases the chances of falling by 1.4 times the regular risk.
Intermountain Hearing Centers’ Lander Hearing and Balance Center
Intermountain Hearing Centers is a state-of-the-art Lander hearing and balance center. Our expert staff is trained to implement the best clinical practices to diagnose and treat a variety of vestibular and balance disorders. Dizziness, vertigo and imbalance can greatly impact a person’s level of activity, social and professional lives and decrease their quality of life. It will also greatly increase an individual’s fall risk.
Throughout the natural aging process, not only can our balance decrease, but we often have other medical issues in conjunction with balance disorders. We are always concerned when an individual’s risk of fall increases. In order to properly evaluate a person’s potential fall risk and in order to seek a diagnosis for dizziness, vertigo and disequilibrium, our Lander hearing and balance center is uniquely capable of providing valuable diagnostic and treatment options.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) reports, “It is estimated that approximately 40% of the population in the United States will experience some form of dizziness or balance difficulty over the course of a lifetime (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders [NIDCD], 2014).”
What is a Lander hearing and balance center?
A Lander hearing and balance center is a medical facility where a Doctor of Audiology provides diagnostic evaluations for people with hearing loss, balance disorders, tinnitus and the other ear related issues. Doctors of Audiology have the most comprehensive training, equipment and skills required to provide accurate diagnostic information for all hearing and balance disorders.
Our balance system is comprised of multiple systems working together. It helps to think of it as a tripod. The main systems gathering information and sending it to our brain where it is combined and processed are our eyes, our inner ear and the somatosensory system (particularly information from the leg muscles and feet). Just like a tripod, if you were to limit the function of a tripod leg (system) it would significantly compromise stability. Our inner ear uses the vestibular system, vestibular nerve, the cerebellum and brainstem to integrate and coordinate these various systems.
Dizziness, vertigo and imbalance can be caused by a variety of factors. Sometimes it is related to the inner ear, other times it may be related to cardiovascular, neurological or psychological conditions, just to name a few. When seeking a diagnosis for these issues, we often begin by ruling out the most common issues, such as the inner ear. That is why a Lander hearing and balance center is so important. It provides valuable diagnostic information to assist your physician in providing proper care and diagnosis.
Our doctors of Audiology that work in our Lander hearing and balance center at Intermountain Hearing Centers, are expertly trained to interpret and provide proper recommendations to the referring physician. We take pride in providing timely follow-up and will have a report back to your physician within 48 hours of testing.
What to Expect From a Balance Evaluation
During a balance assessment, an audiologist will often perform a comprehensive hearing evaluation. The two primary functions of our ear are to help us hear and to help us maintain our balance. Because the hearing portion of the inner ear and the balance portion are so closely connected, a comprehensive hearing evaluation provides valuable diagnostic information and allows us to diagnose or rule out specific disorders.
When scheduling an appointment at our Lander hearing and balance center one of our patient care coordinators will reach out to you and provide you with pretest paperwork. A balance questionnaire will be provided, which we ask you to fill out before arriving to the Lander hearing and balance center for your appointment. We also provide a detailed list of test procedures in the paperwork. Some medications can affect the test results, so we also review specific medications that should be avoided prior to testing. The most important part of the paperwork is a comprehensive case history. Throughout the case history we will be able to identify when the dizziness and imbalance began, the symptoms associated with it, and how long it has been going on. The clinician will review the case history with the individual throughout the appointment.
During a comprehensive evaluation at our Lander hearing and balance center we are monitoring eye movements throughout a series of tests and one thing we are measuring is how much nystagmus is present throughout testing. Nystagmus is the term used to describe involuntary movements of the eye. These movements can occur from side to side, up and down or in a rotational motion. Some people are born with congenital nystagmus and others acquired over time.
The following is a list of test procedures and equipment that we use during our comprehensive diagnostic evaluation at our Lander hearing and balance center.
Videonystagmography (VNG) is a procedure conducted by an audiologist to test the function of your inner ear. You will be wearing goggles during the test and a small camera will record your eye movements. During the test you will be asked to watch a series of lights, place your head in several different positions and have warm and cool air put in your ear canals. The VNG should not cause any pain, but it may cause dizziness and on rare occasion nausea.
Neuro-diagnostic Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) is a test to evaluate the 8th cranial nerve. Sound is presented to each ear separately and responses are measured with the use of adhesive skin surface electrodes. Small foam headphones will be placed in each ear and a loud clicking sound is presented. The individual is not required to respond during this test. In fact, it is more helpful if they relax and close their eyes.
Cervical Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potential (cVEMP) tests whether certain vestibular organs and sections of the nerve are functioning correctly. Adhesive skin surface electrodes are used to measure responses on the nerve as a loud clicking sound is presented into the ear. The patient is required to raise their head slightly to contract one of their neck muscles. Each head raise only lasts a few seconds.
Rotational chair testing is important in assessing the combined function of both inner ears. The chair will move back and forth side to side and in a circular motion. Goggles are placed over the eyes with a cover. The individual is not able to see any light as the chair moves. The goggles are able to measure the response from the eyes as the person rotates. Slight dizziness is felt during this test, but it subsides quickly, and the patient rarely experiences nausea.
Electrocochleography (ECoG) is a test to evaluate specific function of the inner ear in conjunction with audio stimulation. A skin surface electrode is placed on the person’s forehead and a foil covered earphone is placed into the ear canal. Sound is presented and the electrode measures the response. There are no negative side effects to this test.
Common Inner Conditions Causing Dizziness, Vertigo and Imbalance
A common cause of dizziness associated with the inner ear is known as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). We all have tiny microscopic crystals or rocks in our ears. These crystals sit on top of a gelatinous mass and move in conjunction with head movements. Sometimes due to a head cold, head trauma or for unexplained reasons, these crystals can get knocked loose into areas they don’t belong. When this happens, a person will experience severe vertigo for usually 10-20 seconds. The vertigo can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Once the crystals settle the vertigo subsides. It will be triggered again by head movements. Other head movements that will trigger it are looking up or down and laying down in bed or rolling over.
BPPV is diagnosed with the use of the Dix-Halpike maneuver and lateral head rolls. At our Lander hearing and balance center we routinely check for BPPV during a diagnostic evaluation. When testing for BPPV, it is important to understand head positioning. If not careful, you can cause the crystals to migrate into other areas during testing and treatment. Once BPPV is diagnosed by the audiologist, they will recommend the proper treatment. Treatment can be done by our trained audiologists in our Lander hearing and balance center once diagnosed. Once again, it is important to take precautions during treatment of BPPV to decrease risk of crystals expanding into other areas of the inner ear.
Many people come to our office being told that they have crystals loose in their ears. This may be true for some individuals, but often times there is something else causing this person’s dizziness. Another diagnosis we often hear is Ménière’s disease. Unfortunately, many people who have been diagnosed with Ménière’s disease don’t actually have it. There is not one specific test that will measure whether or not an individual has Ménière’s disease.
It is a diagnosis of exclusion. Therefore, a case history is an essential part of our test battery. Understanding symptoms, instances when they occur and how long they have been occurring will often help us to know exactly what to look for.
If you or any one close to you suffer from acute or chronic dizziness, vertigo or imbalance, you should consult with your doctor and be seen in our Lander hearing and balance center for a full diagnostic evaluation.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2020). Balance System Disorders: Incidence and Prevalence. Retrieved from https://www.asha.org/PRPSpecificTopic.aspx?folderid=8589942134§ion=Incidence_and_Prevalence