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Semicircular Canal Dehiscence Explained

Sounds and dizziness

We’ve all heard of and probably know someone who gets motion sickness easily if it’s not ourselves who deal with this problem already. Motion sickness is that familiar feeling of dizziness or nausea when our brains receive confusing signals about the world around us when we are in the car, on a boat, or enjoying (or not) an amusement park ride. But did you know that some people also deal with dizziness caused by certain frequencies of sound, such as a piano, another musical instrument, or a simple conversation?
These people are more likely to be living with a genetically caused thinness or hole in the bone encasing the inner ear. This deficiency in the bone causes fluid within the inner ear to move incorrectly when certain sounds are heard. This condition is called semicircular canal dehiscence.  In fact, researchers believe this condition affects one in every 100 people across the world. The feeling perceived when these anomalies occur described as being similar to the feeling you have when drunk.
The Cause
So what exactly causes the feeling of dizziness or vertigo? A study conducted by researchers at the University of Utah discovered eye-movements that are triggered to counteract the normal movement of the head perceived by inner ear fluid movement, are incorrectly triggered by the movement of inner ear fluid caused by the changed perception of sound in people with the hole in the bone casing of the inner ear.
In other words, our eyes move to counteract the movement of the head. Everytime our heads move, our eyes move to stabilize the picture and keep us from feeling dizzy or nauseous. When do our eyes know to move? They depend on messages from the brain that has been received from the inner ear.
The fluid of the inner ear moves when the head moves. This movement results in a signal sent to the processing centers of the brain, telling the brain the head is moving. Consequently, the eyes are told to countermove to avoid feelings of dizziness. If the brain is getting false reads from the inner ear fluid, it will send false movement commands to the eyes, causing a countermovement to a head movement that never happened and thus a perception of spinning. This unnecessary movement of the eyes results in dizziness, vertigo, or nausea.
The Difficulty of Semicircular Canal Dehiscence
For people who have semicircular canal dehiscence, the feeling of dizziness can occur within seconds after hearing a trigger sound. Now that researchers understand the connection between the pathological holes in the bone housing and the nature of the condition that results from it, care providers can be better equipped to address and treat the condition.
Surgery to repair the dehiscence is one viable option that remedies the condition with a high degree of confidence. Other treatment options and coping techniques are also available. For more information about semicircular canal dehiscence, please call our office today to speak with a hearing health professional.

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Hearing Loss and the Holidays

Hearing family during the holidays

With Halloween now behind us and Thanksgiving on the horizon, there is no doubt that the holiday season is here. While the fully stocked store aisles and endless TV and radio ads may focus on the things we “need” to get for ourselves and others, it’s the people we spend time with that really make it special. And chances are, at least some of those family and friends will have hearing loss.
Hearing loss is all around us
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), almost 38 million Americans have at least some trouble hearing. Those are just people 18 and over, too. The number is even higher when accounting for children with hearing loss. With statistics like that, if you don’t have hearing loss, you most likely know someone who does.
With plenty of holiday gatherings on the calendar in the weeks to come, now is a great time to plan and prepare with hearing loss in mind.
Holiday hearing tips
Whether it’s talking over turkey, catching up at a festive cocktail party, debating with Dad or gabbing over gifts, tips like these can help you connect and communicate even when family and friends have hearing loss:
Tune in and turn up: Whether you’re the host or a guest, stay tuned in to those you know (or think) have hearing loss. Do they seem to be having trouble joining in the conversation? Are they staying on the outskirts of the activity? Try engaging them in conversation on their own or bring them back into a group conversation to keep them feeling connected and part of the festivities. Everyone appreciates feeling engaged, cared for and part of the action, regardless of hearing ability.
Create the best setting: Considering candlelight and spirited holiday music for your get together? Keep in mind that it could make communicating more difficult for guests with hearing loss. Instead, opt for a brighter setting with minimal background noise to make it easier for those with hearing impairment to see lip movement, facial expressions and gestures and hear more of the conversation around them. This can also help those with hearing loss avoid extra fatigue from trying to listen through extra background noise.
Practice effective communication: This is crucial no matter who or where you are! Strategies like these can help everyone avoid confusion and frustration and help everyone feel heard and connected:

  • Face whoever you’re speaking with – In any situation, make sure you are face to face when speaking. This allows anyone (especially someone with hearing loss) to take in the full picture of eye contact, body language and lip movement along with the sound they hear.
  • Speak clearly – Avoid rushing, mumbling, talking too loudly or too softly. For someone with hearing loss, these can make speech more difficult to understand and lead to frustration.
  • Rephrase instead of repeat – It can be easy to just repeat exactly what you’ve said when the person you’re speaking with hasn’t heard or understood. Instead, rephrase what you’ve said. In some cases, different words may be easier to hear and understand. A re-phrased statement may also offer deeper context for the listener helping them grasp what’s being said.

Tips like these can help keep everyone connected this holiday season, even with hearing loss. If you’d like to learn more about hearing loss and help family and friends who have hearing loss, contact our office. Scheduling a hearing evaluation may be the best gift you could give them or yourself this year!