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Inner Ear Disorders Message Board

Hearing and Balance

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Old 08-10-2005, 11:39 AM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 489
notpain HB User
Hearing and Balance

Yesterday I went to the ENT. I told him I have been having balance problems for about a year. I have chronic sinusitis and herniated cervical discs. The Audiologist tested my hearing (in the little soundproof box with the head set) and everything was Normal with my right ear just slightly better than my left.

I also had a complete exam by the ENT. He doesn't think my Balance problems are related to my sinuses. For some reason it's tough for me to get answers out of doctors, primarily because they don't seem to be able to figure out what is going on. About 2/3rds belive it's my neck causing the problems, the others a "virus" or my sinuses or an ear problem. And out of sight out of mind, if they can't figure it out in the 15 minutes to a half hour I"m with them, then I am not going to get diagnosed. I have yet to have a doctor no matter how many visits really try and figure it out. They ask the same questions and I tell them the same answers. At some point I hope to find a physican who will ask the "right" questions. I have no idea what that may be. I've seen 11 now, including a Natropath. I will try another Natropath next week. The last one at least took the time to listen to me, but had no ideas.

Can one have an inner ear problem, even through their hearing is just fine? Neither the ENT nor the Audiologist suggested any kind of balance testing (strapped to chair, motion tests) I read people have undergone on these boards. The ENT checked my ears and didn't see anything abnormal. I was concerened about tubes placed in my ears as a child still being in there, but he said they would have fallen out on their own, and explained how that happens. So is it possible to have good hearing and still have an ear infection which can cause a balance disorder?

Maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree with balance and my ears? The ENT also looked into my eyes and said there didn't appear to be any problems (and I don't have vision problems, I can see fine and read small print).

So I have no idea what to do next or where to go next. I know I have terrible balance and mild Nausea all the time. The bloodwork done so far Cholesterol, CBC, Metabolic Panel, has all come back within "normal" ranges. I haven't been out of the country. I am about 10 days into a colon cleanse and have noticed no changes in stool. I'm just baffled, and very sick.

Any ideas, especially in regard to hearing and ear problems would be appreciated.

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Old 08-10-2005, 02:34 PM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 110
rachel4123 HB User
Re: Hearing and Balance

Dear Notpain:
Yes, I believe it is VERY possible to have inner ear damage or problems that cause imbalance/dizziness, WITHOUT hearing problems. I for one, have had balance issues and the constant nausea for 7 months. Been to ENT who tested my ears and pretty much said the same thing - "I don't think it is inner ear related", but I had an ENG test which tests for vestibular damage or benign positional vertigo. My tests were normal. So basically, they couldn't help and I was referred to a neurologist. I am surprised they didn't refer you. Most docs would have ordered and MRI of the brain. Have you had this? This helps in finding the problem. For me, I am kind of in the same boat, they don;t know what it is, but say I have vestibular neuritis and recommends vestibular rehab. I have yet to do the rehab. My situation is sort of different b/c they found white spots on my brain which let to more tests for lyme and others, like MS. Still not sure what it really is - this neuro thinks the white spots are from migraines.. The waiting game sucks. I am probably going to go see another neuro to see what he thinks.
Hope you get some help. THe people on this board are great. You can usually get lots of feedback and support!

Old 08-10-2005, 04:53 PM   #3
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 8
dizzyinaust HB User
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I have been diagnosed with vestibular neuronitis although the specialist keeps changing his mind. My vestibules are blocked.

I have dizziness issues without apparent hearing loss. My specialist wants me to have a hearing test but at the moment I will have to wait one month for it. I have had hearing tests before but he wants me to go to a deaf specialists to be sure.

I haven't really been off balance other than a few off days. I guess it has to do with Im an ex gymnast and perhaps I know how to recorrect my balance better???? Im just guessing there, not positive.


Old 08-10-2005, 06:05 PM   #4
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 402
firechick HB User
Re: Hearing and Balance

Hey Notpain
you can very definitely have inner ear issues without any hearing loss, the two systems are seperate. You could have had a virus attack the inner ear which upset the vestibular system. You will need to have a caloric test and an ENG and perhaps a rotary chair test to determine how your vestibular (inner ear) system is working.
You can do some balance physio like exercises to retrain your vestibular system, balance can be retrained and improved all the time. It can be as simple as standing with your feet toe to heel (one in front of the other) with your arms crossed over your chest. If you can stand for at least 30 sec like that without toppling over, try with your eyes closed. Or walk in a line toe to heel without going off center, again try with eyes closed etc etc. (be careful though if your balance is so off you don't want to fall and hurt yourself, go slow initally)
Hope this helps, but you are likely on the right board! (sorry to say)

Old 08-10-2005, 06:15 PM   #5
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 489
notpain HB User
Re: Hearing and Balance

I have had an MRI of the brain with contrast and 2 different Neurologists have reviewed my films and they say it's all normal except for the sinusitis. I feel like the doctors don't see anything right away so they just dismiss everything. I still pay them their full fees to guess. I will look into the Caloric Test and the ENG. I am really suprised that with both neck herniations and sinusitis and 2 Neurologists that no one has ever mentioned any kind of nerve testing or balance tests. I have to find all these physicans on my own and hope they will accept me as a patient, then wait for weeks to get into the appointment only to be told "I don't know" and I have yet to have any of the Doctors even have enough of a clue as to why I have balance and nausea problems to refer me to any one. I live in a Big Metropolitain area with a major university hospital and I have to crack open the yellow pages and keep trying on my own. The state of medical care in the USA is pretty sad indeed. Thank you for all your suggestions and if anyone new reading this note wants to throw in their 2 cents I'd appreciate that too. I thought lyme disease came from ticks, I have not been exposed to my knowledge and had no bites or rashes, but who knows? Thanks again.

Old 09-07-2005, 06:40 AM   #6
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1
ameurton HB User
Re: Hearing and Balance

does anyone know if there is a book or list of exercises you can do to improve your balance? asking for my eighty year old sis, and for me too, also getting up in age and find I'm not as sure on my feet as I used to be.

Old 09-07-2005, 01:49 PM   #7
Senior Member
Join Date: May 2005
Location: California
Posts: 290
dizzyblond HB User
Re: Hearing and Balance

Hi, Notpain,
You are going to glean a TON of information on this board, and you're going to discover that many of us have had the very same experiences you have. You definitely need to check into the ENG test, as that may help bring a more conclusive diagnosis - it may indicate whether the vestibular nerve in each inner ear is responding, which in turn lets them know what degree of damage you might have incurred. (Then again, my ENT told me that every test in the book could come back within normal limits and I could still have a vestibular problem that just didn't show up. I think we have to go with our symptoms, and your's do sound suspiciously vestibular!) You'll read over and over here that many have had ALL the tests with everything all within normal limits - that does not necessarily mean that you haven't had some sort of vestibular damage!!!!! Your symptoms certainly sound like you have!

My guess is that you've sustained some sort of vestibular neuronitis (that is vestibular damage without hearing loss) - that's what I have, and in the beginning I was horribly ill, just as you are describing.

You are doing the right thing by taking this bull by the horns - we have to become our own medical advocates in most of the health systems we are working within - and this board will help you to do just that. I'd suggest that you do a little bit of investigating on vestibular rehabiliation therapy (both on this board, as well as the internet) - find out everything you can, and start to do some of the simple exercises right away. Don't overdo, and start gently - but do start something as soon as you can, whether you can get in to see a specialist or VRT program right away or not. I made the mistake of doing NOTHING (I felt SO sick, and could barely make it from the bed to the couch and back - movement made me feel even worse, so I didn't move! In hindsight I can say that was a big mistake - and now wish I'd known then what I know now, and I would have forced myself to get more active much sooner!). There is a way out of this... and I really think you've found the place and resources that will help!

Ameurton - welcome to the board! You, as well, will probably want to start researching vestibular rehabiliation therapy exercises. You can search on this board, or through any search engine on the internet. If balance is your main concern, simply type in "balance exercises" and you will get a huge list of web sites that are filled with all sorts of helpful information. Has your sister been given a diagnosis? Some VRT is more specific in addressing vestibular/occular concerns, which might be helpful if that is something she's struggling with.

Just wanted to say hi to you both and add my two cents for what it's worth!
Take care,

Old 09-07-2005, 02:08 PM   #8
Senior Veteran
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 1,147
gloria2936 HB User
Re: Hearing and Balance

Hi Notpain,

I didn't really know about all this inner ear stuff until 4 months into it I found this board and got a lot of information. I went to many specialist and like you, no one ever mentioned any of these balance (inner ear tests). I found out about them by reading this board. I found a neurotogist (that is who deals with ears and dizziness), you may want to look into one of them. I had the rotarty chair test done and I am due back in October for another test to test the fluid level in my ear because I have ear fullness.

Keep checking the boards. You will find out so much more information from the people on these boards than any doctor out there.

Take care,

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