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A balancing act

  • By Peter Byrom
  • 05 April 2022
  • 3 minutes 10:57am

Welcome back to the Peter Byrom Audiology blog. This month I thought I would shine a light on one of the specialist services that we offer: balance.

What is balance?

When you think of balance you might think of your yoga class or a tightrope walker… Of course, both of these things require balance but it is a skill we use every second of every day. Simply crossing from a path onto grass requires balance, getting out of bed in the morning, reaching for your cup of coffee. This intricate skill that we can take for granted is thanks to our vestibular system.

How does the vestibular system work?

The vestibular system is one of the sensory systems that provides your brain with information about balance, motion, and the location of your head and body in relation to your surroundings. There are three loops in your inner ear, called semicircular canals.

The first canal senses up-and-down movement. The second canal senses side-to-side movement. The third canal senses tilting movement. Each canal has hair cells and fluid inside, which move when your head or body moves. The hair cells send messages to your brain through the acoustic nerve. These messages tell your brain about how you are moving. Are you moving straight, for example in a car, or up and down, like in a lift? Or maybe you are not moving at all. This information (along with what you see, hear, and sense with your body) helps you keep your balance. A problem in your inner ear is just one of many factors that can lead to balance difficulties, dizziness, and vertigo.

What causes balance problems?

Signs and symptoms of balance problems include:

  • Sense of motion or spinning (vertigo)
  • The feeling of faintness or light-headedness (presyncope)
  • Loss of balance or unsteadiness
  • Falling or feeling like you might fall
  • Feeling a floating sensation or dizziness
  • Vision changes, such as blurriness
  • Confusion

If you find these are associated with the problems you have been having, get in touch with our team here in Sheffield, you can make an appointment and we will carry out a full assessment.

What treatment can I expect?

Each balance case is unique to the patient but following a full assessment, we may look at the following:

  • Balance retaining exercises: working together we can figure how to customise balance exercises for you. By helping with ear imbalance and improving your overall balance we hope to prevent any falls or dizzy spells from becoming unmanageable.
  • Positioning Procedures: This is a procedure to clear the particles that are blocking the inner ear, depositing them into another area of your ear to help focus your balance more. This procedure involves manipulating your head into a number of stances to carry out this treatment.
  • Diet Changes: Some patients find that certain foods can trigger their balance issues. Commonly these tend to be excess salt, caffeine and alcohol.

If you think you may be struggling with balance, please do get in touch and we can arrange a full assessment.

As always, take care and I’ll see you next month!

Peter

Peter Byrom is an Audiologist and Hearing Aid Dispenser who specialises in a range of Audiology & Hearing Aid Dispensing services. Based in Sheffield he covers all of South Yorkshire including Chesterfield, Barnsley, and Rotherham. He is qualified with a Masters in Science (MSc) Advanced Practice and has over 25 years NHS (latterly as adult clinical lead) and 15 years private sector experience. He is registered with the Registration Council for Clinical Physiologists (RCCP) and the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). His aim is to provide the best Audiology Service available to you.

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    Thornbury Hospital
    312 Fulwood Road
    Sheffield S10 3BR
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    12 Causeway Head Road Dore
    Sheffield S17 3DT
    0114 419 1800
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