When you’re a youngster, falling is just a part of life. Taking a spill on your bicycle? That’s typical. Getting tripped up while sprinting across the yard. Happens every day. Kids are very limber so, no big deal. They bounce back very easily.
The same can’t be said as you get older. Falling becomes much more of a concern as you age. In part, that’s because your bones tend to break more easily (and heal more slowly). Older people tend to spend more time lying on the floor in pain because they have a harder time getting back up. Falling is the leading injury-related cause of death as a result.
That’s why tools and devices that can decrease falls are always being sought out by healthcare professionals. New research appears to suggest that we might have determined 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: is it feasible that hearing loss can raise your risk of having a fall? In some situations, it seems that the answer is a definite yes.
So the question is, why would the danger of falling be raised by hearing loss?
That connection isn’t really that intuitive. Hearing loss doesn’t really, after all, affect your ability to move or see. But it turns out there are a few symptoms of hearing loss that do have this kind of direct impact on your ability to move around, and these symptoms can result in an increased risk of falling. Here are some of those symptoms:
- You have less situational awareness: 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. Your situational awareness could be substantially impacted, in other words. Can hearing loss make you clumsy like this? Well, sort of, loss of situational awareness can make daily activities slightly more hazardous. And that means you may be a little bit more likely to accidentally stumble into something, and take a tumble.
- Loss of balance: How can hearing loss effect your balance? Well, your overall balance depends greatly on your inner ear. So you might find yourself dizzy, experience vertigo, and lose your balance when hearing loss affects the inner ear. As a result of this, you could fall down more frequently.
- You can’t hear high-frequency sounds: When you go into a stadium, you know how even if you close your eyes, you can tell 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. That’s because your ears are using high-frequency sounds to help you “echolocate,” more or less. When you’re unable to hear high-pitch sounds because of hearing loss, you can’t make those assessments quite as rapidly or intuitively. This can lead to disorientation and loss of situational awareness.
- Exhaustion: Your brain is working extra hard and you’re always straining when you have untreated hearing loss. Your brain will be continuously exhausted as a consequence. An exhausted brain is less likely to see that obstacle in your path, and, as a consequence, you may end up tripping and falling over something that an alert brain would have seen.
- Depression: Untreated hearing loss can result in social solitude and depression (not to mention an increased danger of dementia). You are likely to be at home a lot more when you’re socially separated, and tripping hazards will be all around without anyone to help you.
Part of the connection between falling and hearing loss is also in your age. As you get older, you’re more likely to develop permanent and advancing hearing loss. That will increase the chance of falling. And when you’re older, falling can have much more severe consequences.
How can hearing aids help minimize falls?
It makes sense that hearing aids would be part of the remedy when hearing loss is the issue. And this is being validated by new research. One recent study discovered that using hearing aids could cut your risk of a fall in half.
The link between remaining on your feet and hearing loss wasn’t always this evident. That’s to some extent because people often fail to wear their hearing aids. So it was inconclusive how often hearing aid users were having a fall. This wasn’t because the hearing aids weren’t working, it was because people weren’t wearing them.
The method of this study was conducted differently and perhaps more accurately. Those who used their hearing aids often were put in a different group than people who used them occasionally.
So why does using your hearing aids help you avoid falls? They keep you less exhausted, more focused, and generally more alert. The increased situational awareness doesn’t hurt either. Many hearing aids also come with a feature that can notify the authorities and family members if a fall happens. Help will arrive quicker this way.
Consistently wearing your hearing aids is the trick here.
Prevent falls with new hearing aids
You will be able to stay close to your loved ones if you wear hearing aids, not to mention catch up with friends.
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.