When you’re a kid, falling is just a part of life. Wiping out on your bicycle? Not unusual. Getting tripped up while sprinting across the yard. Also rather normal. Kids are very limber so, no big deal. They bounce back quite easily.
As you grow older though, that becomes less and less true. Falling becomes more and more of a worry as you get older. One reason for this is that bones break easier and heal slower when you’re older. Older individuals tend to spend more time on the floor in pain because they have a more difficult time getting back up. Falling is the leading injury-related cause of death as a result.
That’s why tools and devices that can reduce falls are always being sought out by healthcare professionals. New research seems to indicate that we might have determined one such device: hearing aids.
Can hearing loss cause falls?
In order to understand why hearing aids can help avert falls, it helps to ask a relevant question: does hearing loss make you more likely to fall in the first place? It looks as though the answer may be, yes.
So why does hearing loss raise the risk of a fall for people?
That link isn’t exactly intuitive. Hearing loss doesn’t really, after all, impact 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 a higher risk of having a fall. Some of those symptoms include:
- Exhaustion: Your brain is working extra hard and you’re always straining when you have neglected hearing loss. This means your brain is worn out more often than not. An attentive brain will detect and steer clear of obstacles, which will decrease the likelihood of falling.
- You have less situational awareness: When you have untreated hearing loss, you might not be as able to hear that approaching vehicle, or the dog barking next to you, or the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps. Your situational awareness might be substantially affected, in other words. Can you become clumsy in this way due to hearing loss? Well, kind of, loss of situational awareness can make everyday tasks slightly more dangerous. And your chance of bumping into something and falling will be slightly higher.
- Loss of balance: How is your balance impacted by hearing loss? Well, your overall balance depends greatly on your inner ear. So when hearing loss affects your inner ear, you might find yourself a bit more likely to grow dizzy, experience vertigo, or have trouble keeping your balance. Essentially, you have a tendency to fall more often.
- Depression: Social isolation and possibly even cognitive decline can be the outcome of neglected hearing loss. When you’re socially isolated, you may be more likely to spend time at home, where tripping hazards are everywhere, and be less likely to have help nearby.
- High-pitched sounds get lost: You know how when you walk into a concert hall, you instantly know that you’re in a large venue, even if your eyes are closed? 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 utilizing high-pitched sounds to help you “echolocate,” more or less. You will lose the ability to quickly make those judgment calls when hearing loss causes you to lose those high-pitched tones. This can bring about disorientation and loss of situational awareness.
Part of the link between hearing loss and falling is also in your age. You’re more likely to develop progressing and irreversible 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 severe repercussions.
How can the danger of falling be lowered by wearing hearing aids?
If hearing loss is part of the problem, it makes sense that hearing aids should be part of the solution. And this is being confirmed by new research. One recent study revealed that using hearing aids could cut your chance of a fall in half.
In the past, these figures (and the connection between hearing aids and remaining on your feet) were a bit fuzzier. That’s partly because people often fail to use their hearing aids. As a consequence, falls among “hearing aid users” were often inconclusive. This was because individuals weren’t using their hearing aids, not because their hearing aids were malfunctioning.
The approach of this research was conducted differently and perhaps more precisely. Those who wore their hearing aids frequently were classified into a different group than those who wore them intermittently.
So how can you avoid falls by wearing hearing aids? Generally speaking, they keep you more vigilant, more concentrated, and less tired. The added situational awareness doesn’t hurt either. Many hearing aids also come with a feature that can alert the authorities and family members in case of a fall. Help will come quicker 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 time with your family members, and remain connected to everyone who’s significant in your life.
They can also help you remain on your feet, literally!
If you want to learn more about how hearing aids could help you, make an appointment with us right away.