Episode 12 Balance and Hearing

The Transcript

Dale Johnson: Thanks for being with us here on another Saturday morning at KFOR-FM 103.3, 12:40 AM and joining us for The Conversation Starts Here with Dr. Sandra Miller of Complete Hearing. Thank you for coming in again.

Dr. Miller: Absolutely.

Dale Johnson: Hearing and balance is our subjects, are our subjects today, so what’s the correlation between hearing and balance?

Dr. Miller: So a couple of things I’d like to share with the listeners just more for the fact that please know that your hearing and your balance are both located in the inner ear. They’re right next to each other, but we have a lot of studies that just show that if you have normal hearing, say you have hearing that’s maybe 20 decibels and above, think about like 20/20 hearing, once we go beyond that having really good hearing and you have even just a 10 decibel decrease in hearing, you’re one and a half times more likely to be at risk for falling, and that increases for every 10 decibels more of hearing loss that you have.

Dr. Miller: So hearing and balance are highly correlated to each other, and what I want you to think about is that your balance, think about what you use to maintain balance. You use your senses, and so you use how you feel the ground with your somatory sensory system. We’ll talk a little bit about that. You use your vision, you use your inner ear, and you use your hearing. And so there’s all these different systems that go into balancing yourself in addition to all the physical parts, and so we have a guest with us today that we’re going to cover that as well. So I think it’s such an important thing to talk about that people aren’t aware of.

Dale Johnson: Yeah, we’ve asked Dr. Curtis Fletcher from Fletcher Chiropractic to come back to talk about balancing chiropractic. Welcome back. Thank you very much.

Dr. Fletcher: Thank you.

Dale Johnson: Let’s answer Dr. Miller’s question. How does chiropractic help with balance?

Dr. Fletcher: Well, it’s one of those things that one, you can look at someone’s ankles and they might need to work on ankle stabilization, so doing different exercises to help strengthen those, especially if you’re going over uneven surfaces. But also just making sure that your spine is moving correctly. Sometimes, for instance, we’ve had patients in the past that have had sinus issues as I mentioned with Dr. Miller, and adjusting the jaw, working on some muscles of the jaw, just getting them to relax, so then it opens up the eustachian tube, which is the tube from your ear canal to your throat, just to let air move and get things to drain a little bit. So I mean. There’s different scenarios, but basically just corrective care and strengthening and getting you to work on things that you need to do to get better.

Dr. Miller: Yeah, we try to be very much an advocate for our patient in terms of when they come in and they have balance issues, the first question we typically will say, “Have you had any falls? Tell me about your balance,” and a lot of times our patients will tell us, “Well, I’m elderly and this is normal,” and our immediate response is if you’re falling or you’re unsteady or you’re dizzy, that’s not normal. And so we need to find the root cause of what it might be coming from, and boy, it can be anything from hearing to medications to not a straight spine to weakness in the muscles and whatever it might be. And so when people tell me that, I think it’s such an important thing to say, it’s important to find out where the cause is and then to find some help, because what we find when people aren’t balanced very well, they’re dizzy, unsteady, they have fear, and their fear is falling.

Dr. Miller: And their fear is, “Well, I’m not going to go there, because I’m afraid that I’m not going to be able to, I may have an incident where I fall on the ice or the uneven surface like we talked about,” so I want the patients out there just to be advocates for themselves, to know that there’s places that they can go to help them with this. And so I think Dr. Curtis has such a good point to say, “What is a way we can help people with their balance? Let’s find out where in their spine is there an issue.” So kind of just curious from you, Dr. Curtis, what do you see when patients are coming in with this kind of symptoms of, “Hey, I’m unsteady,” or things like that?

Dr. Fletcher: Well, it’s kind of like you said, they don’t really want to go outside in the snow or uneven surfaces, and so it’s one of those things that like I said earlier, might be working on different ankles with wobble boards, things like that, just to help strengthen things. But then sometimes it might be proper shoe wear.

Dr. Miller: Oh, I love that.

Dr. Fletcher: Just make sure that their feet are supported. We have a saying in our office that your feet are kind of like the foundation of your house. If there’s something wrong with that, it’s going to affect the walls and windows and everything else, right? So that’s something that, kind of an oddball thing, but then of course making sure that you’re moving correctly, making sure that muscles are working correctly, not as tight, working on your posture, different things like that to just make sure that you are as optimal as possible. But then like you said earlier, getting to the root of the problem, because there are so many problems or things that can cause a dizziness or vertigo and things like that, and so that way we can at least if we can help you, we can help you, or if it’s like a hearing issue, I can refer to someone like Dr. Miller or refer to whoever they need to go to depending on what the issue is.

Dale Johnson: Dr. Miller, does it matter to you how a person fell?

Dr. Miller: It-

Dale Johnson: In other words, “Just standing still and all of a sudden I lost my balance,” or, “I was walking and I stumbled,” or, “I’m trying to sit down and I lose my balance.” Does how a person falls matter?

Dr. Miller: Yeah, I think that’s such a big topic and such a big question. I would tell you the answer would be yes. A lot of the times the questions we are asking are, are you feeling this way when you’re sitting still? In any way. When you get up, how do you feel? When you start moving how do you feel? Are you falling to one side or the other? Do you feel you’re kind of walking over your feet and trip… and getting…? And for us we are not the experts when it comes to this part of it, the structure part of it, but we definitely want to know is this tied to the inner ear or is this in some way tied to something else? And we want to make the appropriate referral. We’ve always talked about that we do try to treat you as a whole person.

Dr. Miller: If we need to make an appropriate referral somewhere, we want to make sure we do that or give you something to consider that maybe your primary care might not be telling you it. It tends to be my patients feel maybe a little dismissed a little bit when it comes to this symptom, especially as they age and we just want you to live the best life you can, especially when you’re in your home environment, making sure you’re safe. But definitely when you’re out and about. And so I just, the as so important, I love this, that the feet are the foundation-

Dr. Fletcher: Foundation of your house.

Dr. Miller: The feet are the foundation of your house. And I can imagine if your spine is crooked-

Dr. Fletcher: Well, if you think about it, so if you have a loss of an arch or your pronate, things like that, it could affect your knee up your hip to your low back and then your body compensates for it. And so, then if you have dizziness or other stuff on top of that, that doesn’t really help things. And so that’s where a lot of people need to realize that you have maybe more than one issue. And so then that’s where we need to co-treat and do things. The only thing I always tell patients is you can’t always conquer Rome in a day. So it’s something that you have to work on things. And it’s a marathon it ain’t a sprint. So we just got to keep working toward those goals.

Dale Johnson: The body is so great at compensating.

Dr. Miller: Oh, isn’t that the truth?

Dr. Fletcher: That is really true.

Dale Johnson: And so people may think that if they hurt for two or three days and then it goes away. It was just, I’ve worked it out, but know your body has compensated for it and has shifted. It doesn’t want you to be in pain. So it’s doing what it can to get you out of pain.

Dr. Fletcher: Oh, I’m sure Dr. Miller will agree it’s a lot easier to take care of an issue before or even when it’s starting then look way down the road, so.

Dr. Miller: Yeah. I like what you said. I keep going back to this about that foundation because we deal with so many patients who might be, we talked about, maybe diabetic or they’re dealing with health issues that cause neuropathy, whether it be in the hands and the feet, and we deal with that just with dexterity issues. But that has such a huge tie to balance to.

Dr. Fletcher: Oh yes.

Dr. Miller: Yeah. I think it’s amazing when you can’t feel the ground right. That doesn’t help you with balance and then you just think about it. It has all those other factors that go along with it.

Dr. Fletcher: That is correct. I would agree.

Dale Johnson: With my life change, I took my toes for granted. Just just the toes do so much to help stabilize and they’re just marvelous pieces of the body that we take for granted.

Dr. Fletcher: Take some time to probably adjust and get used to things, and so.

Dr. Miller: Amazing the sensitivity just of your… And I always tell my patients too, your entire body is tied to each other, right? So we talked about-

Dr. Fletcher: Everything’s connected.

Dr. Miller: Everything’s connected. So go through that little thing we’ve talked about earlier about the nerves. I was really taken back by that too.

Dr. Fletcher: Well, I mean the nerves are, I mean they’re protected by your spine. But it goes to everything. So it controls your muscles basically. It goes to your organs, different things like that. But it’s one of those things that you have so many miles of nervous system and it basically tells your body what to do. So, I mean, you got to take care of that. Otherwise, you don’t want to issues down the road affecting that. So then you have the numbness and tingling and things like that, which a diabetic, it’s a little bit different, but just because it’s sugar handling issues and stuff like that. But depending on what the issue is, that’s certainly something that we can help. And so.

Dale Johnson: To put it in as simplistic form, you help take pressure off of those nerves.

Dr. Fletcher: In a way. Yes. Depending on what it is, like if it’s a disc issue, there are certain things we can do. There are definitely certain exercises like working on your core that will be beneficial. Just like I said, depends on what the issue is.

Dale Johnson: So can chiropractic help hearing?

Dr. Miller: That’s a really good question. It’s one question that I would tell you. It’s very in our industry or as audiology would look at it, we’re, “Hmm, I don’t know about that.” But I’m a big fan of chiropractic as you are Dale. I truly believe in chiropractic care. I go see a chiropractor. I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for my health.

Dale Johnson: I agree.

Dr. Miller: Right, it’s just something that people just so take for granted. I really liked what you said earlier, just about we have people who come in with, “My ear feels full, I have this fullness. It never goes away.” I test your hearing. It’s normal. Your middle ear space is appropriately functioning. I don’t know what the problem is. I can’t diagnose this. And then I say, “Maybe you should go see an ear, nose and throat doctor?” And the ear, nose and throat doctor says, “Well I don’t see anything wrong with you either. Here is a decongestant.” Tell me a little bit about that.

Dr. Fletcher: Well, a lot of cases like that, it’s a jaw issue. Usually they get a lot of clicking and popping in their jaw. And so there is an adjustment can do to the jaw, but it’s more common. It’s the really tight muscles of your jaw and there’s two, ones right behind her teeth that get really tight. And so we kind of show you how to stretch those in Illinois. Everyone looks at us weird, but it’s like we show you once so then you can do it. But if you’re really stressed, holidays are coming up, stuff like that. What is your first thing you want to do? You want to clench your teeth. And so, you’re just getting, those muscles to relax. We’ll open up, the eustachian tube from the ear to the throat and then get things to relax and move. And, get all better.

Dr. Miller: And I would say that even with ear pain, we find a lot of people who have ear pain, it’s tied to clenching of the jaw. And so when they come in, “Oh, I get the stabbing pain in my ear so often.” I would say, “Are you chewing gum and are you a jaw clincher?” Because that just causes that inflammation into that space. And it just causes that stabbing ear pain that can come and go. And so you think about that so correlated and people don’t think about it.

Dale Johnson: People don’t even realize they’re doing it. But yeah, a lot of people. What else to observe that their clenched.

Dr. Miller: People don’t breathe enough either. How much you hold your breath during the day.

Dr. Fletcher: Well as I say, improper breathing cause a lot of us are chest breathers and we should be more abdominal breathers.

Dale Johnson: Posture.

Dr. Fletcher: Yep, posture.

Dr. Miller: Man.
Dale Johnson: [crosstalk 00:11:27] straightened up when I said that.

Dr. Fletcher: Oh yeah, exactly. So, but even with your neck muscles, if they’re get really tight, whether it be from posture or stress, I mean that’s certain things that you got to work on too. And it’s kind of a whole body approach to get you toward the ultimate goal of getting better. And the one thing that I will say that we always see or kind of tell people is that inflammation is the root of all evil. Now what causes that inflammation? That could be all sorts of different causes.

Dr. Miller: Your diet.

Dr. Fletcher: Yeah, that’s one. I would say a lot of people don’t get enough water. I think you’d agree with me on that.

Dr. Miller: Yeah, absolutely.

Dr. Fletcher: Fruits and vegetables, this is another one, but-

Dale Johnson: Dr. Fletcher, best way to reach out to you?


Dr. Fletcher: Give us a call at (402) 261-5766. Otherwise, look us up on at fletcherchiropracticllc.com.

Dale Johnson: That’s the chiropractic side of things. Dr. Miller, how can someone reach you?

Dr. Miller: Best way to reach us is find us online, complete-hearing.com or just stop by the office. We’d love to see you. We’re at about 72nd and Pioneer.

Dale Johnson: And every Saturday morning we’re here talking about it on the Conversation Starts Here.