An overview of hearing and balance health problems

Written by: Mr Peter Monksfield
Edited by: Aoife Maguire

Are you curious about the primary factors behind hearing and balance issues? Do you or your child contend with hearing or balance disorders? Esteemed consultant ENT surgeon Mr Peter Monksfield unveils key insights, uncovering the symptoms to watch for and proactive measures for maintaining optimal hearing and balance health.



Do children typically suffer more from ear-related health problems? If so, why is that?


Yes, children are more prone to experiencing ear problems, particularly ear infections, which can lead to hearing loss. Approximately half of three-year-olds may encounter hearing issues stemming from middle ear problems like glue ear, typically resolving as the child matures. This is largely attributed to the maturation of the eustachian tube and middle ear; as children grow, they often outgrow these issues.


In terms of balance, what kind of symptoms should people to watch out for?


The primary balance issues stemming from ear problems often manifest as vertigo, a symptom rather than a standalone diagnosis. Vertigo is characterised by the sensation of the environment spinning around you or yourself being stationary while the world moves. It can be highly unpleasant, often accompanied by nausea and possibly vomiting, leaving sufferers feeling profoundly unwell. Episodes can vary in duration, lasting from seconds to minutes, hours, or even days to weeks depending on the underlying condition. Therefore, the key symptoms to watch out for in ear-related balance problems are sensations of vertigo or a shifting environment.


In relation to ear, hearing, and balance health problems, when should people seek medical attention?


When experiencing ear issues, it's crucial to consult either a doctor or an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. Whenever individuals find themselves looking for a solution, it's tricky to pinpoint precisely when to seek help, as urgency varies. However, certain symptoms warrant immediate attention, such as sudden hearing loss, which requires same-day medical evaluation.


Likewise, if experiencing vertigo, seeking medical assistance is paramount. Symptoms like tinnitus, particularly if confined to one ear, should prompt a visit to a medical or ENT specialist for assessment. Essentially, any unexplained or concerning ear-related symptoms, notably pain, hearing impairment, tinnitus, imbalance, and vertigo, should prompt a visit to a healthcare professional.


What are influencing factors that may cause ear, hearing, or balance disorders in an average person?


The primary contributor to hearing loss and balance issues is, undoubtedly, the ageing process. As individuals advance in age, typically beyond their mid-40s when reading glasses become necessary, they may notice a decline in high-frequency hearing due to natural ageing. By the time people reach their mid-60s and 70s, many may require hearing aids to address this decline in hearing ability.


In some cases, if hearing deterioration accelerates due to various factors, hearing implants may become necessary to enhance communication and hearing.


What should people do in order to take care of their ear, hearing, and balance related health?


Maintaining overall fitness and health is essential for both balance and hearing. This entails adhering to a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and other habits that promote physical well-being. A strong core and peripheral nervous system, combined with optimal inner ear function, are crucial for preserving balance.


Similarly, for optimal hearing health, adopting a healthy lifestyle is key. It involves being mindful of communication strategies and utilising visual cues alongside auditory input. This may include addressing any vision impairment for clear sight during conversations, focusing on the speaker, and incorporating lip-reading techniques when necessary. These practices contribute to effective communication and support the maintenance of healthy ears and hearing abilities.  




If you would like to book a consultation with Mr Monksfield, simply visit his Top Doctors profile today.

By Mr Peter Monksfield
Otolaryngology / ENT

Mr Peter Monksfield is a highly experienced and qualified consultant ENT surgeon who specialises in ear disorders. Mr Monksfield, who graduated from the University of Manchester with a bachelor degree in medicine and surgery in 1997, also specialises in neurotology as well as the diagnosing and treatment of inner ear tumours, including acoustic neuromas, glomus tumours as well as various other malignant tumours

Mr Monksfield has ranked up quite the impressive medically focused CV to-date, having previously undertaken ENT training in Oxford, London. Hereafter, Mr Monksfield then completed higher surgical training in Birmingham and the West Midlands, whilst also undertaking an advanced fellowship training in neurotology and cochlear implant surgery at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital and the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. 

Mr Monksfield first began as a consultant ENT surgeon at the esteemed Birmingham Ear Clinic in 2013 and has held the position ever since. Impressively, he is also an honorary senior clinical lecturer at the University of Birmingham. The highly qualified doctor is currently a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England as well as being on the specialist register of the General Medical Council. Not only that, but he is also a member of highly esteemed otology-focused groups such as ENT-UK, the British Society of Otology as well as the European Academy of Otology & Neuro-Otology

The surgeon posseses a notable interest in the area of medical research and is the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) lead for ENT in the West Midlands. Today, Mr Monksfield engages himself in running trials for patients with tinnitus as well as for patients with implanted hearing devices. He has, to-date, written a whole host of peer-reviewed papers and continues to enhance his excellent reputation as a leading consultant ENT surgeon in the West Midlands region. 

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