When you’re a youngster, falling is just a part of life. Taking a spill on your bicycle? That’s normal. Getting tripped up while sprinting across the yard. Happens every day. It’s not really a worry because, well, kids are kind of limber. They rebound pretty easily.
As you grow older though, that becomes less and less true. The older you get, the more worrisome a fall can be. One reason for this is that bones break easier and heal slower when you’re older. Older people may have a harder time standing back up after a tumble, 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.
That’s why tools and devices that can reduce falls are always being sought out by healthcare professionals. New research appears to suggest that we may have determined one such device: hearing aids.
Can hearing loss cause falls?
In order to determine why hearing aids can help avert falls, it helps to ask a related question: does hearing loss make you more likely to fall in the first place? It seems as if the answer may be, yes.
So you have to ask yourself, why would the danger of falling be increased by hearing loss?
That connection isn’t exactly intuitive. After all, hearing loss doesn’t directly influence your ability to move or see. But this sort of direct impact on your mobility, and an increased danger of falling, can be a consequence of some hearing loss symptoms. Here are some of those symptoms:
- You have less situational awareness: You may not be capable of hearing the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps, the dog barking next door, or an oncoming vehicle when you have neglected hearing loss. Your situational awareness could be substantially impacted, in other words. Can you become clumsy in this way due to hearing loss? Well, in a way yes, everyday tasks can become more dangerous if your situational awareness is compromised. And that means you could be a little bit more likely to accidentally stumble into something, and have a tumble.
- Depression: Neglected hearing loss can lead to social isolation and depression (along with an increased danger of dementia). You are likely to stay home a lot more when you’re socially isolated, and tripping dangers will be all around without anybody to help you.
- Exhaustion: Your brain is working extra hard and you’re always straining when you have untreated hearing loss. Your brain will be continuously tired as a consequence. An alert brain will detect and avoid obstacles, which will decrease the chance of having a fall.
- High-pitched sounds get lost: You know how when you go into an auditorium, you immediately detect that you’re in a spacious venue, even if you close your eyes? Or when you get into a car and you immediately know you’re in close quarters? That’s because your ears are utilizing high-pitched sounds to help you “echolocate,” more or less. You will lose the ability to rapidly make those judgment calls when hearing loss causes you to lose those high-frequency tones. Loss of situational awareness and disorientation can be the consequences.
- Loss of balance: How is your balance impacted by hearing loss? Well, your overall balance depends heavily on your inner ear. So when hearing loss affects your inner ear, you may find yourself a little more likely to grow dizzy, experience vertigo, or have trouble maintaining your balance. Because of this, you may fall down more often.
Age is also a factor when it comes to hearing loss-induced falls. You’re more likely to develop progressing and irreversible hearing loss. That will raise the likelihood of falling. And when you’re older, falling can have much more severe repercussions.
How can hearing aids help decrease falls?
It seems logical that hearing aids would be part of the remedy when hearing loss is the issue. And new research has confirmed that. Your danger of falling could be decreased by as much as 50% according to one study.
In the past, these numbers (and the connection between hearing aids and remaining upright) were a little bit fuzzier. Partly, 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 were malfunctioning, it was because people weren’t using them.
But this new study took a different (and maybe more accurate) approach. Individuals who wore their hearing aids frequently were put in a different group than people who wore them intermittently.
So why does using your hearing aids help you prevent falls? They keep you less fatigued, more focused, and generally more vigilant. The added situational awareness doesn’t hurt either. Many hearing aids also come with a feature that can alert the authorities and family members if a fall happens. Help will arrive quicker this way.
Consistently using your hearing aids is the trick here.
Prevent falls with new hearing aids
You will be able to stay close to your family members if you wear hearing aids, not to mention catch up with friends.
They can also help prevent a fall!
If you want to find out more about how hearing aids could help you, schedule an appointment with us today.