Your sense of balance is foundational to your ability to move. If you lose some or all of your capacity to maintain your balance, you are immediately at a greater risk of falls that could result in fractured bones.
Today we'll take a close look at an unexpected culprit that can threaten your ability to maintain your balance. We'll examine the reasons behind this problem, its ramifications for bone health, and the safest, most effective solutions to avoid it.
The Inner Ear, Vertigo, And Earwax
Your inner ear contains three canals filled with fluid. Special hair-like cells line the walls of the canals and float in that fluid.
When you move your head, those cells sense the movement of the fluid and send signals to the brain. Your brain uses this information to help generate a sense of your own movement and your position in relation to the ground.
When this system doesn't work correctly, you can become dizzy, off-balance, and even nauseous. Sometimes, the inner ear can stop functioning correctly due to medical conditions like a tumor or dislodged crystals in the ear canals. But another more prevalent cause may surprise you: earwax.
Earwax can build up until it blocks the ear or becomes impacted. It creates pressure that disrupts the ability of the inner ear canals to accurately communicate with the brain. The result is dizziness and loss of balance.
Your inner ear has three canals that contain motion-sensing cells suspended in fluid. When this system is disrupted, you can get dizzy, off-balance, and nauseous. One possible cause is impacted earwax.
Balance And Bones
Feeling dizzy is uncomfortable, disorienting, and dangerous. Even a mere moment of mild dizziness could have devastating consequences under the wrong circumstances. It's essential to maintain your balance at all times.
Not surprisingly, studies have shown that improved balance reduces the risk of falls,1 which are the cause of most fractures. So impacted earwax can lead to broken bones if left unaddressed.
Dizziness is dangerous because it can lead to falls and fractures. Increasing balance has been shown to reduce the risk of falls, which prevents bone fractures.
Impacted Earwax Symptoms And Solutions
Everyone's ears are different and produce different amounts of earwax. Some people may be at greater risk of earwax impaction because of their earwax production, or because of other factors.
Those who spend a lot of time underwater, such as swimmers and surfers, are at higher risk because ear wax can absorb the water and swell, filling the ear. That can prevent the ears from draining, and leads to further earwax buildup.
People who wear hearing aids are more likely to have impacted ear wax. Repeatedly placing the hearing aid in the ears can gradually pack earwax more and more densely into the ear canal. Even cotton swabs used inside the ear can cause earwax impaction.
In addition to dizziness, there are other signs of impacted ear wax. They include:
- Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
- A feeling of fullness, blockage, or pressure in the ear
- Hearing loss
If you think you might have earwax buildup, then see your primary care physician. Attempting to remove the earwax yourself can make the problem worse, or even cause injury.
Your doctor can safely irrigate your ears, or recommend drops to help moisten and discharge built-up earwax. If the problem is severe you may be referred to a specialist.
Surfers and swimmers are more likely to have impacted earwax because water causes earwax to swell. People who wear hearing aids may have impacted earwax. Check the above list of symptoms that can be caused by impaction. If you think your earwax is impacted, see your doctor — don't try to remove the earwax yourself.
What This Means To You
To avoid falls and fractures we need to maintain our balance. Since our inner ear controls our balance, our ear canals are an important part of protecting our bones.
A bad fall can break even the strongest bone. So minimizing the risk of falling is a critical component of bone health. That's why the Save Institute developed Save Trainer. It's an online video-workout platform that in addition to the anti-aging workouts that strengthen your bones, increase strength, and improve posture and flexibility, also offers balance-improving workouts. Here are a few examples: “Quick Balance,” “Dancing Balance,” “Balance Boost”, and “Yoga For Balance.”
You can trust our professional trainers to provide all the guidance you need. Keep your sense of balance strong through regular exercise, an active lifestyle, and clear ear canals!
Comments on this article are closed.
A few years ago, I suffered a nasty case of BPPV that seemed to come out of nowhere. After a week of antihistamines and doing those exercises where you sit on your bed and fall back towards the affected ear (which did very little for me), my doctor cleaned/flushed my ears. The vertigo disappeared within 24 hours. Phew!
I hv suffered from Vertigo for many yrs, Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, which is supposed to be caused by displacement of crystals in the inner ear. Do u have any exercises that may help. So far I hv found that the same exercises prescribed for my cervical spondylosis helpful, as they involve movement of the eyeballs which is supposed to be good for BPPPV. Do u hv anything different?
Thank you, Ita.
Thank you for explanation of possible causes for lost balance, dizziness etc. It has happened to me that I had the impression like being on a boat. First I thougt it was my neck but excercise did no help. Then I have the sensation I might have been dehydrated. I slowly drank more than 1/2 a liter of water and this strange feeling of dizziness disappeared. I don’t know if dehydration was the cause of it… Not important, I am glad it disappeared! Best regards Helena
Vivian: You are so right when ear wax gets buildup. I wear hearing aids. Need to have ears cleaned out every 6 months by a specialist.
Very careful on my balance, exercise helps, thank you for those.