When you’re a youngster, falling is just a part of life. Wiping out on your bicycle? Not unusual. Tripping over your own feet while you’re running outside? Also fairly typical. Kids are quite limber so, no big deal. They don’t typically stay down for very long.
As you get older though, that becomes less and less true. Falling becomes much more of a concern as you age. One reason for this is that bones are more brittle and heal slower when you’re older. Older individuals may have a more difficult time standing back up after falling, so they spend more time in pain lying on the floor. Falling is the leading injury-associated cause of death as a result.
It isn’t surprising, then, that healthcare professionals are always on the lookout for tools and devices that can lessen falls. New research seems to indicate that we might have discovered one such device: hearing aids.
Can hearing loss cause falls?
In order to determine why hearing aids can help prevent falls, it helps to ask a relevant question: is it possible that hearing loss can increase your chance of falling? It seems as if the answer might be, yes.
So the question is, why would the danger of falling be raised by hearing loss?
That connection isn’t exactly intuitive. Hearing loss doesn’t really, after all, affect your ability to see or move. But this kind of direct impact on your mobility, and an elevated risk of falling, can be a consequence of some hearing loss symptoms. Here are a few of those symptoms:
- Depression: Untreated hearing loss can cause social solitude and depression (and also an increased danger of dementia). You are likely to stay home a lot more when you’re socially isolated, and tripping hazards will be all around without anybody to help you.
- Exhaustion: When you’re dealing with neglected hearing loss, your ears are always straining, and your brain is always working overtime. Your brain will be constantly tired as a consequence. A tired brain is less likely to detect that obstacle in your path, and, as a consequence, you might wind up tripping and falling over something that an alert brain would have seen.
- Your situational awareness is impaired: When you have neglected hearing loss, you might not be as able to hear that oncoming vehicle, or the dog barking next to you, or the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps. In other words, your situational awareness might be significantly affected. Can loss of hearing make you clumsy in this way? Well, in a way yes, day-to-day tasks can become more hazardous if your situational awareness is compromised. And your chance of bumping into something and falling will be a little higher.
- High-pitched sounds get lost: When you go into an arena, you know how even if your eyes are closed, you can tell you’re in a large space? Or when you get into a car and you immediately know you’re in a small space? That’s because your ears are utilizing high-pitched sounds to help you “echolocate,” basically. When you can no longer hear high-pitch sounds because of hearing loss, you can’t make those assessments quite as quickly or intuitively. This can result in disorientation and loss of situational awareness.
- Loss of balance: How is your balance affected by hearing loss? Well, your inner ear is very significant to your overall equilibrium. So when hearing loss impacts your inner ear, you might find yourself a bit more likely to grow dizzy, experience vertigo, or have trouble keeping your balance. Because of this, you may fall down more frequently.
Part of the link between hearing loss and falling is also in your age. As you get older, you’re more likely to experience irreversible and progressive hearing loss. At the same time, you’re more likely to take a tumble. As a result, when you get older, falls are more likely to have severe consequences.
How can hearing aids help reduce falls?
It makes sense that hearing aids would be part of the remedy when hearing loss is the issue. And this is being confirmed by new research. One recent study found that wearing hearing aids could cut your chance of a fall in half.
The connection between staying on your feet and hearing loss wasn’t always this evident. That’s partly because individuals frequently fail to wear their hearing aids. So it was inconclusive how often hearing aid users were falling. This wasn’t because the hearing aids were malfunctioning, it was because individuals weren’t using them.
The method of this research was conducted differently and maybe more effectively. Individuals who wore their hearing aids now and again were segregated from individuals who used them all of the time.
So why does wearing your hearing aids help you prevent falls? In general, they keep you more alert, more focused, and less tired. The added situational awareness doesn’t hurt either. In addition, many hearing aids come with safety features created to activate in the case of a fall. Help will come quicker this way.
Consistently using your hearing aids is the key here.
Prevent falls with new hearing aids
You will be able to remain close to your family members if you wear hearing aids, not to mention catch up with friends.
They can also help you stay on your feet, literally!
Make an appointment with us right away if you want to find out more about how your quality of life can be improved.