When you’re a kid, falling is simply a part of life. Taking a tumble on your bicycle? Not unusual. Stumbling over your own feet when you’re running outside? Also fairly normal. It isn’t really a concern because, well, kids are kind of limber. They bounce back quite easily.
As you grow older though, that becomes less and less true. The older you get, the more concerning a fall can become. To some extent, that’s because your bones generally break more easily (and heal more slowly). Older individuals might have a harder time getting up after a tumble, so they spend more time in pain lying on the floor. Consequently, falls are the number one injury-related cause of death in people older than 65.
It isn’t shocking, then, that healthcare professionals are always on the hunt for tools and devices that can reduce falls. New research seems to suggest that we may have determined one such device: hearing aids.
Can hearing loss bring about falls?
In order to understand why hearing aids can help avert falls, it helps to ask a related question: is it feasible that hearing loss can raise your risk of having a fall? It looks as though the answer may be, yes.
So why does hearing loss raise the risk of a fall for people?
That connection isn’t exactly intuitive. 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 effect on your ability to move around, and these symptoms can result in a higher risk of having a fall. Here are some of those symptoms:
- Exhaustion: Your brain is working overtime and you’re always straining when you have untreated hearing loss. This means your brain is tired more often than not. An alert brain will detect and avoid obstacles, which will decrease the chance of having a fall.
- Your situational awareness is impaired: You may not be capable of hearing the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps, the barking dog next door, or an approaching vehicle when you have untreated hearing loss. Your situational awareness could be significantly affected, in other words. Can loss of hearing make you clumsy in this way? Well, sort of, loss of situational awareness can make day-to-day tasks a bit more dangerous. And that means you might be a little bit more likely to unintentionally stumble into something, and take a fall.
- Depression: Social solitude and possibly even cognitive decline can be the outcome of neglected hearing loss. When you’re socially isolated, you might be more likely to spend time at home, where tripping dangers are everywhere, and be less likely to have help nearby.
- Loss of balance: How does hearing loss effect your balance? Well, your inner ear is extremely significant to your overall equilibrium. So you might find yourself dizzy, experience vertigo, and lose your balance when hearing loss affects your inner ear. In other words, you have a tendency to fall more often.
- You can’t hear high-frequency sounds: When you go into an arena, you know how even if your eyes are closed, you can detect that you’re in a huge space? Or how you can immediately detect that you’re in a small space when you get into a vehicle. Your ears are actually utilizing something like “echolocation” and high-frequency sound to help your spatial awareness. When you’re unable to hear high-pitch sounds because of hearing loss, you can’t make those judgments quite as rapidly or intuitively. This can lead to disorientation and loss of situational awareness.
Part of the link between hearing loss and falling is also in your age. As you age, you’re more likely to experience permanent and advancing hearing loss. At the same time, you’re more likely to take a tumble. Consequently, when you get older, falls are more likely to have serious consequences.
How can hearing aids help decrease falls?
It seems logical that hearing aids would be part of the solution when hearing loss is the issue. And this is being validated by new research. Your risk of falling could be lowered by up to 50% based on one study.
The link between remaining on your feet and hearing loss wasn’t always this clear. Partly, that’s because not everybody wears their hearing aids all of the time. So it was inconclusive how often hearing aid users were having a fall. This was because individuals weren’t using their hearing aids, not because their hearing aids were broken.
The method of this study was carried out differently and perhaps more precisely. People who used their hearing aids now and again were separated from people who wore them all of the time.
So why does using your hearing aids help you avoid falls? They keep you less exhausted, more concentrated, and generally more alert. The added situational awareness also helped. Additionally, many hearing aids include safety features created to activate in the case of a fall. Help will arrive faster this way.
Regularly using your hearing aids is the trick here.
Prevent falls with new hearing aids
Hearing aids can help you reunite with your friends, enjoy quality moments with your family members, and stay connected to everybody who’s important in your life.
They can also help you remain on your feet, literally!
Make an appointment with us today if you want to know more about how your quality of life can be improved.