Inner ear problems can affect many areas of your life, including your vision and balance. You can develop an inner ear disorder after catching a cold, sustaining a head injury, having a stroke or contracting another degenerative medical condition, states the National Institutes of Health. Your doctor may prescribe a series of exercises that can gradually help you regain your balance, stabilize your dizziness and eliminate any nausea caused by your inner ear problems.
The inner ear is part of the vestibular system, which controls your balance. The eyes are also a component of the vestibular system. Your inner ear and eyes work together to stabilize your field of vision as you walk or move. Inner ear problems may affect your sight; you could experience blurry vision or feel like you can't keep your eyes steadily locked on an object as you move. A 1994 "New York Times" article tells the story of a patient with an inner ear problem who successfully used ear exercises as part of his treatment program.
Fix your eyes on a stationary object in front of you, such as a clock, a chair or a tree. Slowly move your head to one side and then to the other, up and down, tracking the object with your eyes. Perform each set of moves 20 times. You may feel sick or dizzy at first, but over time your off-balance feelings and nausea will subside. British-based ENT surgeon James Fairley suggests starting the eye exercises slowly and gaining speed through each repetition.
Vertigo is a balance disorder in which you feel like you or the room is spinning around. Vertigo is likened to dizziness, but doesn't always carry the same lightheadedness that you might feel when you're dizzy. The National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders explains that vertigo and balance problems are often symptoms of an inner ear disorder. Practicing balance exercises can help you stay on your feet without feeling like you're going to fall.
Cigna, a health services company, explains that balance exercises start out very simple, and gradually become more involved and challenging as you progress. The goal of a balance exercise is to be able to stand still or hold your balance when moving without feeling wobbly, dizzy or sick to your stomach. The most basic balance exercise challenges you to stand up straight, with your arms at your sides, for 30 seconds without moving. If you experience severe vertigo, you may not be able to achieve this goal the first time out, but hold the position for as long as you can. As you improve, you can add to the exercise by moving your head or closing your eyes while standing still. Aim for 15 to 20 head movements per set of advanced exercises.
Walking with an inner ear infection or disorder can be challenging because of the vertigo you may experience. Exercises that entail walking and then stopping short can strengthen your vestibular system so that you can walk without risk of falling. Cigna encourages people who are engaging in walking exercises to improve inner ear-related balance problems to have a helper nearby or at least a railing for support.
Walk several steps in front of you and then stop yourself quickly. Stand up straight and keep yourself still for at least 10 seconds. If you are dizzy, wait until the sensation passes. Repeat until you have walked across the room or until you are unable to go farther due to vertigo or nausea. Chart your progress by counting how many steps you've taken each day.
The Brandt maneuver is a series of movement exercises that are part of vestibular rehabilitation therapy, according to The Ohio State University Medical Center. Therapy of this kind helps you improve your coordination and may ease your feelings of dizziness.
Sit up straight on a bed, couch or other large surface that is big enough to stretch out to your full body length. Plant your feet flat on the floor. Turn your head so that your chin is directly over your left shoulder. Keep your eyes focused on a point or object on your left. As you keep your eyes to the left, lie down quickly on your right side; your head should be as still as possible. You will most likely feel dizzy at first, but remain lying for 30 seconds after the dizziness passes. Quickly sit up and turn your head to its original forward position. Stay seated and still until you no longer feel dizzy or nauseated. Repeat the same actions with the other side--looking over your right shoulder and lying down on your left side. Keep still after each movement until discomfort fades.
- The Ohio State University Medical Center: Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT)-- Brandt Maneuver
- National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders: Balance Disorders
- ENTKent: Vertigo Rehabilitation Exercises
- Cigna: Vertigo: Balance Exercises
- "New York Times": Exercise Therapy Can Help Dizziness From Inner-Ear Ills; Melinda Henneberger; Jan. 26, 1994