When you’re a youngster, falling is simply a part of life. Wiping out on your bicycle? That’s typical. Getting tripped up when running across the yard. Happens all of the time. Kids are quite limber so, no big deal. They bounce back quite easily.
As you get older though, that becomes less and less true. The older you get, the more worrisome a fall can be. In part, that’s because your bones tend to break more easily (and heal slower). Older people may have a harder time getting up after a tumble, so they spend more time in pain lying on the floor. Falling is the leading injury-related cause of death as a result.
It isn’t surprising, then, that healthcare professionals are always on the hunt for tools and devices that can reduce falls. Hearing aids may be just such a device according to research.
Can hearing loss cause falls?
In order to determine why hearing aids can help avert falls, it helps to ask a related question: is it feasible that hearing loss can increase your chance of falling? It appears as if the answer might be, yes.
So you have to ask yourself, why would the risk of falling be raised by hearing loss?
There isn’t really an intuitive association. After all, hearing loss doesn’t directly influence your ability to move or see. But it turns out there are certain symptoms of hearing loss that do have this type of direct effect on your ability to get around, and these symptoms can lead to a higher danger of having a fall. Here are some of those symptoms:
- Your situational awareness is impaired: When you have untreated hearing loss, you might not be as able to hear that approaching vehicle, or the barking dog beside you, or the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps. Your situational awareness could be substantially affected, in other words. Can you become clumsy like this due to hearing loss? Well, sort of, loss of situational awareness can make day-to-day activities slightly more hazardous. And your risk of stumbling into something and having a fall will be slightly higher.
- Exhaustion: Your brain is working extra hard and you’re always straining when you have neglected hearing loss. Your brain will be constantly exhausted as a result. An exhausted brain is less likely to notice that obstacle in your path, and, as a consequence, you may end up tripping and falling over something that an attentive brain would have detected.
- High-frequency sounds get lost: You know how when you walk into a concert hall, you immediately detect that you’re in a huge venue, even if you close your eyes? Or when you jump into a car and you immediately know you’re in a small space? Your ears are actually using something similar to “echolocation” and high-frequency sound to assist your spatial awareness. You will lose the ability to quickly make those assessments when hearing loss causes you to lose those high-pitched tones. This can lead to disorientation and loss of situational awareness.
- Depression: Social solitude and possibly even cognitive decline can be the outcome of neglected hearing loss. When you’re socially separated, you might be more likely to stay at home, where tripping hazards are everywhere, and be less likely to have help close at hand.
- Loss of balance: How is your balance impacted by hearing loss? Well, your general balance depends heavily on your inner ear. So you may find yourself dizzy, experience vertigo, and lose your balance when hearing loss impacts the inner ear. Essentially, you have a tendency to fall more often.
Part of the link between hearing loss and falling is also in your age. You’re more likely to develop progressing and irreversible hearing loss. That will increase the probability of falling. Consequently, when you get older, falls are more likely to have serious repercussions.
How can the risk of falling be lowered by wearing hearing aids?
It makes sense that hearing aids would be part of the solution when hearing loss is the problem. And new research has borne that out. One recent study found that using hearing aids could cut your risk of a fall in half.
In the past, these figures (and the connection between hearing aids and staying upright) were a bit fuzzier. In part, that’s because not everybody uses their hearing aids all of the time. So it was inconclusive how frequently hearing aid users were falling. This wasn’t because the hearing aids weren’t working, it was because people weren’t using them.
The method of this study was carried out differently and maybe more precisely. People who wore their hearing aids now and then were segregated from people who wore them all of the time.
So why does wearing your hearing aids help you prevent falls? Generally speaking, they keep you more alert, more concentrated, and less fatigued. The increased situational awareness also helped. Additionally, many hearing aids include safety features created to activate in the case of a fall. Help will come faster this way.
But the key here is to be certain you’re using your hearing aids frequently and regularly.
Invest in your fall prevention devices today
Hearing aids can help you reunite with your friends, enjoy quality time with your loved ones, and stay connected to everyone who’s important in your life.
They can also help prevent a fall!
If you want to learn more about how hearing aids could help you, make an appointment with us today.