When you’re a kid, falling is simply a part of life. Wiping out on your bike? Not unusual. Getting tripped up while sprinting across the yard. Happens all of the time. It’s not really a worry because, well, kids are kind of limber. They don’t typically stay down for long.
The same can’t be said as you age. Falling becomes much more of a concern as you grow older. To some extent, that’s because your bones generally break more easily (and heal slower). Older people might have a harder time getting up after a tumble, so they spend more time in pain lying on the floor. Falling is the leading injury-related cause of death as a result.
It isn’t surprising, then, that healthcare professionals are always on the lookout for tools and devices that can decrease falls. Hearing aids may be just such a device according to research.
Can hearing loss cause falls?
If you want to know how hearing aids could possibly prevent a fall, you need to ask this related question: is it possible that hearing loss can raise your risk of having a fall? It looks as though the answer might be, yes.
So you have to ask yourself, why would the danger of falling be increased by hearing loss?
That link isn’t exactly intuitive. Hearing loss doesn’t really, after all, affect your ability to see or move. But this type of direct impact on your mobility, and an elevated risk of falling, can be a result of some hearing loss symptoms. Some of those symptoms include:
- Depression: Untreated hearing loss can cause social isolation and depression (along with an increased danger of dementia). When you’re socially separated, you may be more likely to spend time at home, where tripping dangers are everywhere, and be less likely to have help nearby.
- You’re unable to hear high-frequency sounds: When you go into a stadium, you know how even if you close your eyes, you can detect that you’re in a huge space? Or how you can instantly tell that you’re in a small space when you get into a car. 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-pitched tones. This can lead to disorientation and loss of situational awareness.
- 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 might be substantially impacted. Can you become clumsy like this because of hearing loss? Well, sort of, loss of situational awareness can make day-to-day tasks a bit more dangerous. And your chance of stumbling into something and having a fall will be a little higher.
- Loss of balance: How can hearing loss effect your balance? Well, your general balance depends greatly on your inner ear. So when hearing loss impacts your inner ear, you might find yourself a bit more likely to grow dizzy, experience vertigo, or have trouble keeping your balance. Because of this, you may fall down more often.
- Exhaustion: Your brain is working extra hard and you’re always straining when you have untreated hearing loss. This means your brain is tired more frequently than not. An alert brain will detect and avoid obstacles, which will reduce the risk of having a fall.
Part of the connection between falling and hearing loss 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. As a result, when you get older, falls are more likely to have serious consequences.
How can hearing aids help minimize falls?
If hearing loss is part of the problem, it makes sense that hearing aids would be part of the solution. And new research has borne that out. One recent study revealed that using hearing aids could cut your chance of a fall in half.
The link between staying on your feet and hearing loss wasn’t always this evident. Partly, that’s because not everyone wears their hearing aids all of the time. As a consequence, falls among “hearing aid users” were often inconclusive. This wasn’t because the hearing aids were malfunctioning, it was because people weren’t wearing them.
The approach of this research was conducted differently and perhaps more accurately. Individuals 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. The increased situational awareness also helped. Many hearing aids also include a feature that can notify the authorities and family members if a fall happens. This can mean you get help faster (this is crucial for people older than 65).
But the trick here is to be sure you’re using your hearing aids often and regularly.
Prevent falls with new hearing aids
Hearing aids can help you reunite with your friends, enjoy quality time with your family members, and remain in touch with everyone who’s important in your life.
They can also help prevent a fall!
If you want to know more about how hearing aids could help you, schedule an appointment with us today.