When you’re a youngster, falling is just a part of life. Taking a spill on your bicycle? That’s typical. Stumbling over your own feet while you’re running outside? Happens all of the time. 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. The older you get, the more concerning a fall can become. In part, that’s because your bones tend to break more easily (and heal slower). Older individuals might have a more difficult time getting up after falling, so they spend more time in pain on the floor. Consequently, falls are the number one injury-connected cause of death in people over 65.
It’s not shocking, then, that healthcare professionals are always on the lookout for tools and devices that can decrease falls. New research seems to indicate that we might have discovered one such device: hearing aids.
Can hearing loss lead to falls?
If you want to understand how hearing aids could potentially prevent a fall, you need to ask this related question: does hearing loss make a fall more likely to begin with? In some situations, it appears that the answer is a strong yes.
So why does hearing loss increase the risk of a fall for people?
There isn’t really an intuitive link. After all, hearing loss doesn’t directly influence your ability to move or see. But it turns out there are some symptoms of hearing loss that do have this type of direct impact on your ability to move around, and these symptoms can lead to an increased risk of having a fall. Here are some of those symptoms:
- Your situational awareness is impaired: You may not be able to hear the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps, the dog barking next door, or an oncoming vehicle when you have untreated hearing loss. In other words, your situational awareness may be significantly impacted. Can you become clumsy like this as a result of hearing loss? Well, sort of, loss of situational awareness can make everyday tasks a bit more hazardous. And that means you might be slightly more likely to accidentally stumble into something, and have a tumble.
- Depression: Social solitude and possibly even mental decline can be the consequence of neglected hearing loss. 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.
- You’re unable to hear high-frequency sounds: When you go into an arena, you know how even if you close your eyes, you can detect that you’re in a huge space? Or when you get into a car and you immediately know you’re in a small space? That’s because your ears are using high-frequency sounds to help you “echolocate,” more or less. When you’re unable to hear high-frequency sounds due to hearing loss, you can’t make those assessments quite as quickly or intuitively. This can bring about disorientation and loss of situational awareness.
- Exhaustion: Your brain is working overtime and you’re always straining when you have neglected hearing loss. This means your brain is exhausted more often than not. A tired brain is less likely to see that obstacle in your path, and, as a result, you may end up tripping and falling over something that an attentive brain would have noticed.
- Loss of balance: How does hearing loss effect your balance? Well, your overall 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. As a result of this, you may fall down more frequently.
Age is also a factor when it comes to hearing loss-related falls. As you get older, you’re more likely to develop irreversible and advancing hearing loss. At the same time, you’re more likely to have a fall. Consequently, when you get older, falls are more likely to have serious repercussions.
How can the risk of falling be decreased by wearing hearing aids?
If hearing loss is part of the issue, it makes sense that hearing aids would be part of the solution. And this is being validated by new research. One recent study found that using hearing aids could cut your risk of a fall in half.
In the past, these figures (and the link between hearing aids and remaining upright) were a little bit fuzzier. In part, that’s because not everybody uses their hearing aids all of the time. So it was inconclusive how often hearing aid users were falling. This was because individuals weren’t wearing their hearing aids, not because their hearing aids were malfunctioning.
But this new research took a different (and perhaps more accurate) strategy. People who used their hearing aids now and again were segregated from individuals who wore them all of the time.
So why does using your hearing aids help you avoid falls? They keep you less fatigued, more concentrated, and generally more vigilant. The increased situational awareness also helped. In addition, many hearing aids have safety features designed to trigger in the case of a fall. Help will arrive quicker this way.
But the trick here is to make sure you’re wearing your hearing aids often and regularly.
Prevent falls with new hearing aids
Hearing aids can help you reunite with your friends, enjoy quality time with your loved ones, and stay in touch with everybody who’s significant in your life.
They can also help prevent a fall!
If you want to know more about how hearing aids could help you, make an appointment with us right away.
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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive a personalized free hearing test and hearing loss consultation, call today to set up an appointment.