Kids have a tendency to fall on a daily basis. Taking a spill on your bicycle? Not unusual. Getting tripped up while running across the yard. Happens all of the time. It’s not really a worry because, well, kids are quite limber. They bounce back pretty easily.
As you grow older though, that becomes less and less true. The older you get, the more concerning a fall can be. One reason for this is that bones break easier and heal slower when you’re older. Older individuals might have a more difficult time getting up after a tumble, so they spend more time in pain on the floor. 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 after by healthcare professionals. New research seems to suggest that we may have found one such device: hearing aids.
Can hearing loss lead to falls?
In order to figure out why hearing aids can help avert falls, it helps to ask a related question: is it feasible that hearing loss can increase your risk of having a fall? It appears as if the answer might be, yes.
So why does hearing loss increase the danger of a fall for people?
There isn’t really an intuitive link. Hearing loss doesn’t really, after all, impact your ability to see or move. But it turns out there are certain 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 falling. Some of those symptoms include:
- High-frequency sounds get lost: When you go into a stadium, you know how even if you close your eyes, you can tell you’re in a large space? Or how you can instantly tell that you’re in a small space when you get into a vehicle. That’s because your ears are using high-pitched sounds to help you “echolocate,” more or less. When you can no longer hear high-frequency sounds because of hearing loss, you can’t make those judgments quite as quickly or easily. This can bring about disorientation and loss of situational awareness.
- Depression: Neglected hearing loss can cause social solitude and depression (and also an increased risk of dementia). When you’re socially isolated, you might be more likely to stay at home, where tripping dangers abound, and be less likely to have help close at hand.
- 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 impacts the inner ear. Essentially, you have a tendency to fall more frequently.
- Your situational awareness is impaired: When you have neglected 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 significantly impacted. Can hearing loss make you clumsy in this way? Well, kind of, loss of situational awareness can make daily activities a little more dangerous. And your risk of stumbling into something and falling will be a little higher.
- Exhaustion: When you’re dealing with untreated hearing loss, your ears are constantly straining, and your brain is often working extra hard. Your brain will be continuously exhausted as a result. An attentive brain will identify and avoid obstacles, which will lessen the risk of having a fall.
Part of the link between hearing loss and falling is also in your age. You’re more likely to experience progressing and irreversible hearing loss. At the same time, you’re more likely to take a tumble. And when you’re older, falling can have much more severe consequences.
How can hearing aids help decrease falls?
It seems logical that hearing aids would be part of the solution when hearing loss is the issue. And new research has borne that out. Your risk of falling could be lowered by as much as 50% according to one study.
In the past, these numbers (and the link between hearing aids and remaining on your feet) were a little less clear. In part, that’s because not everyone wears their hearing aids all of the time. As a result, falls among “hearing aid users” were often inconclusive. This was because individuals weren’t wearing their hearing aids, not because their hearing aids were broken.
But this new study took a different (and perhaps more accurate) strategy. People who used their hearing aids now and then were segregated from individuals who wore them all of the time.
So how can you avoid falls by wearing hearing aids? Generally speaking, they keep you more vigilant, more focused, and less fatigued. It also helps that you have added spatial awareness. Additionally, many hearing aids include safety features created to trigger in the case of a fall. Help will arrive quicker this way.
Consistently 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 moments with your family members, and stay in touch with everybody who’s important in your life.
They can also help prevent a fall!
Make an appointment with us right away if you want to learn more about how your quality of life can be enhanced.