Kids tend to fall on a daily basis. Taking a spill on your bicycle? Not unusual. Tripping over your own feet while you’re running outside? Happens all of the time. Kids are very limber so, no big deal. 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 get older. In part, that’s because your bones generally break more easily (and heal more slowly). Older people tend to spend more time lying on the floor in pain because they have a more difficult time getting back up. Consequently, falls are the number one injury-related cause of death in individuals older than 65.
That’s why tools and devices that can minimize falls are always being sought after by healthcare professionals. New research seems to suggest that we might have determined one such device: hearing aids.
Can hearing loss lead to falls?
If you want to know how hearing aids could potentially prevent a fall, you need to ask this relevant question: does hearing loss make you more likely to fall in the first place? In some cases, it seems that the answer is a definite affirmative.
So you have to ask yourself, why would the danger of falling be raised by hearing loss?
There’s not exactly an intuitive connection. Hearing loss doesn’t really, after all, impact your ability to see or move. But this kind of direct impact on your mobility, and an increased risk of falling, can be a result of some hearing loss symptoms. Here are a few of those symptoms:
- Your situational awareness is impaired: You may not be able to hear the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps, the dog barking next door, or an approaching vehicle when you have untreated hearing loss. Your situational awareness could be substantially impacted, in other words. Can you become clumsy like this as a result of hearing loss? Well, in a way yes, day-to-day activities can become more hazardous if your situational awareness is compromised. And your risk of stumbling into something and having a fall will be slightly higher.
- Loss of balance: How is your balance affected by hearing loss? Well, your general balance depends greatly on your inner ear. So when hearing loss affects your inner ear, you may find yourself a bit more likely to grow dizzy, experience vertigo, or have trouble maintaining your balance. In other words, you have a tendency to fall more frequently.
- Depression: Social solitude and maybe even mental decline can be the result of neglected hearing loss. When you’re socially separated, you might be more likely to stay at home, where tripping dangers are everywhere, and be less likely to have help close at hand.
- Exhaustion: Your brain is working extra hard and you’re always straining when you have untreated hearing loss. Your brain will be continuously exhausted as a result. A tired brain is less likely to see that obstacle in your path, and, as a consequence, you may wind up tripping and falling over something that an alert brain would have seen.
- High-pitched sounds get lost: 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 how you can immediately detect that you’re in a small space when you get into a car. Your ears are actually utilizing something similar to “echolocation” and high-frequency sound to assist your spatial awareness. You will lose the ability to rapidly make those judgment calls when hearing loss causes you to lose those high-pitched tones. This can result in disorientation and loss of situational awareness.
Age is also a consideration with regard to hearing loss-related falls. You’re more likely to develop progressing and permanent hearing loss. That will raise the probability of falling. Consequently, when you get older, falls are more likely to have serious consequences.
How can the danger of falling be lowered by wearing hearing aids?
It seems logical that hearing aids would be part of the remedy when hearing loss is the problem. And this is being validated by new research. One recent study discovered that using hearing aids could cut your chance of a fall in half.
The relationship between staying on your feet and hearing loss wasn’t always this evident. That’s partially because individuals often fail to wear their hearing aids. So it was inconclusive how often hearing aid users were falling. This was because individuals weren’t wearing their hearing aids, not because their hearing aids were malfunctioning.
The method of this study was conducted differently and maybe more effectively. People who used their hearing aids frequently were put in a different group than people who used them occasionally.
So why does wearing your hearing aids help you avoid falls? In general, they keep you more alert, more concentrated, and less tired. The added situational awareness doesn’t hurt either. In addition, many hearing aids have safety features designed to activate in the case of a fall. This can mean you get help quicker (this is critical for people 65 or older).
But the key here is to make sure you’re wearing your hearing aids frequently and regularly.
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 find out more about how hearing aids could help you, schedule an appointment with us right away.