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? Happens every day. It’s not really a worry because, well, kids are quite 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. One reason for this is that bones break easier and heal slower when you’re older. Older people tend to spend more time lying 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.
It isn’t shocking, then, that healthcare professionals are always on the lookout for tools and devices that can reduce falls. New research seems to indicate that we might have found one such device: hearing aids.
Can hearing loss bring about falls?
In order to figure out why hearing aids can help prevent falls, it helps to ask a related question: does hearing loss make a fall more likely in the first place? In some situations, it appears that the answer is a strong yes.
So why does hearing loss raise the danger of a fall for people?
There isn’t exactly an intuitive association. After all, hearing loss does not directly 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 lead to a higher danger of falling. Some of those symptoms include:
- Depression: Social isolation and maybe even mental decline can be the consequence of untreated hearing loss. When you’re socially separated, you might be more likely to stay at home, where tripping hazards abound, and be less likely to have help nearby.
- Loss of balance: How can hearing loss effect your balance? Well, your inner ear is very significant to your overall equilibrium. So when hearing loss impacts your inner ear, you might find yourself a little more likely to get dizzy, experience vertigo, or have trouble keeping your balance. In other words, you have a tendency to fall more frequently.
- You can’t hear high-frequency sounds: When you go into a stadium, you know how even if your eyes are closed, you can tell you’re in a large space? Or when you jump into a car and you immediately know you’re in close quarters? Your ears are actually utilizing something similar to “echolocation” and high-frequency sound to help your spatial awareness. When you can no longer hear high-frequency sounds because of hearing loss, you can’t make those judgments quite as rapidly or intuitively. Loss of situational awareness and disorientation can be the consequences.
- Your situational awareness is impaired: You may not be able to hear the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps, the barking dog next door, or an approaching vehicle when you have untreated hearing loss. In other words, your situational awareness may be significantly affected. Can hearing loss make you clumsy in this way? Well, in a way yes, everyday tasks can become more hazardous if your situational awareness is compromised. And your chance of stumbling into something and falling will be slightly higher.
- Exhaustion: Your brain is working extra hard and you’re always straining when you have untreated hearing loss. Your brain will be constantly exhausted as a consequence. An attentive brain will notice and avoid obstacles, which will lessen the risk of having a fall.
Age is also a consideration with regard to hearing loss-induced falls. You’re more likely to develop progressing and irreversible hearing loss. That will increase the probability of falling. And when you’re older, falling can have much more severe consequences.
How can hearing aids help minimize falls?
It seems logical that hearing aids would be part of the remedy when hearing loss is the problem. And new research has confirmed that. One recent study discovered 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 staying on your feet) were a little fuzzier. In part, that’s because not everyone wears their hearing aids all of the time. So it was inconclusive how frequently hearing aid users were having a fall. This was because people weren’t using their hearing aids, not because their hearing aids were broken.
The approach of this research was carried out differently and perhaps more precisely. Individuals who wore their hearing aids now and then were separated from people who wore them all of the time.
So why does using your hearing aids help you avoid falls? Generally speaking, they keep you more vigilant, more focused, and less tired. The increased situational awareness doesn’t hurt either. Additionally, many hearing aids include safety features created to trigger in the case of a fall. This can mean you get assistance quicker (this is essential for individuals older than 65).
Regularly wearing your hearing aids is the key here.
Prevent falls with new hearing aids
Hearing aids can help you catch up 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 prevent a fall!
If you want to find out more about how hearing aids could help you, make an appointment with us today.