Hearing aids and balance.

Timothy C. Hain, MD Page last modified: May 25, 2019

People with hearing loss often complain of imbalance. This is because the inner ear contains hearing and balance apparatus, and when one is damaged, the other is often damaged as well.

Rather peculiarly, there is a literature suggesting that assisting hearing improves balance. This literature largely is due to persons who are involved with selling of hearing aids (i.e. audiologists), who may find support from within their profession for publishing papers on this subject. For example, Rumalla et al (2015) said "These results indicate that hearing aids are a novel treatment modality for imbalance in older adults with hearing loss and suggest that wearing hearing aids may offer a significant public-health benefit for avoiding falls in this population."

McDaniel et al, on the other hand, reported that "hearing aids did nothing to positively (or negatively) affect balance in partipants who used them (2018). They reported " No statistically significant differences in participants' balance were identified regardless of the presence or absence of their hearing aids during the SOT. "

We think that having improved hearing probably does contribute a small amount to balance, but we don't think that this is a very cost-effective treatment of balance, because we think the contribution is quite small. Yes, if you can hear the fridge in the dark, you will likely be a little better at knowing where you are. Still, would think there are much more cost effective ways than this to improve balance (e.g. put in a motion triggered night-light for this example).

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