Kids have a tendency to fall pretty much every day. Wiping out on your bike? That’s normal. Tripping over your own feet when you’re running outside? Happens all of the time. It’s not really a concern because, well, kids are quite 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 become. In part, that’s because your bones tend to break more easily (and heal slower). Older individuals tend to spend more time on the floor in pain because they have a harder time getting back up. As a result, falls are the number one injury-connected cause of death in individuals older than 65.
It isn’t shocking, then, that healthcare professionals are always on the hunt for tools and devices that can reduce falls. Hearing aids may be just such a device according to research.
Can hearing loss lead to falls?
In order to figure out why hearing aids can help avert falls, it helps to ask a relevant question: does hearing loss make a fall more likely to begin with? In some situations, it seems that the answer is a strong affirmative.
So the question is, why would the danger of falling be raised by hearing loss?
There’s not really an intuitive link. Hearing loss doesn’t really, after all, affect your ability to move or see. But it turns out there are certain symptoms of hearing loss that do have this type of direct effect on your ability to move around, and these symptoms can result in an increased risk of falling. Here are some of those symptoms:
- High-frequency sounds get lost: You know how when you walk into an auditorium, you immediately know that you’re in a spacious venue, even if you close your eyes? Or when you jump into a car and you immediately know you’re in close quarters? Your ears are actually using something similar to “echolocation” and high-frequency sound to help your spatial awareness. You will lose the ability to quickly make those judgment calls when hearing loss causes you to lose those high-frequency tones. 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 constantly tired as a result. A tired brain is less likely to notice that obstacle in your path, and, as a result, you might wind up tripping and falling over something that an alert brain would have noticed.
- Depression: Neglected hearing loss can result in social isolation and depression (and also an increased risk of dementia). When you’re socially isolated, you might be more likely to spend time at home, where tripping hazards abound, and be less likely to have help close at hand.
- You have less situational awareness: When you have untreated hearing loss, you might not be as able to hear that approaching vehicle, or the barking dog beside you, or the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps. In other words, your situational awareness may be substantially affected. Can hearing loss make you clumsy like this? Well, sort of, loss of situational awareness can make everyday activities slightly more hazardous. And your risk of bumping into something and having a fall will be a little higher.
- Loss of balance: How is your balance affected by hearing loss? Well, your overall balance depends greatly on your inner ear. So when hearing loss impacts your inner ear, you may find yourself a little more likely to grow dizzy, experience vertigo, or have difficulty keeping your balance. Essentially, you have a tendency to fall more frequently.
Part of the link between falling and hearing loss is also in your age. As you age, you’re more likely to develop permanent and progressive 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 repercussions.
How can the danger of falling be lowered by wearing hearing aids?
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. One recent study revealed that using hearing aids could cut your chance of a fall in half.
The relationship between remaining on your feet and hearing loss wasn’t always this obvious. That’s to some extent because people frequently fail to wear their hearing aids. So it was inconclusive how frequently hearing aid users were having a fall. This was because people weren’t wearing their hearing aids, not because their hearing aids were malfunctioning.
But this new study took a different (and maybe more accurate) approach. People who wore their hearing aids now and then were segregated from people who used them all of the time.
So how can you prevent falls by using hearing aids? They keep you less fatigued, more concentrated, and generally more alert. It doesn’t hurt that you have increased situational awareness. In addition, many hearing aids come with safety features created to activate in the case of a fall. Help will come quicker this way.
But the key here is to be sure you’re using your hearing aids frequently and consistently.
Prevent falls with new hearing aids
You will be able to remain close to your family members if you wear hearing aids, not to mention catch up with friends.
They can also help you stay on your feet, literally!
If you want to know more about how hearing aids could help you, schedule an appointment with us right away.