When you’re a youngster, falling is simply a part of life. Taking a spill on your bicycle? Not unusual. Getting tripped up while sprinting across the yard. Also fairly typical. It isn’t really a worry because, well, kids are pretty limber. They don’t usually stay down for long.
As you grow older though, that becomes less and less true. Falling becomes much more of a worry as you grow older. To some extent, that’s because your bones tend to break more easily (and heal slower). Older people might have a more difficult time getting up after a fall, so they spend more time in pain on the floor. Because of this, falls are the number one injury-connected cause of death in people older than 65.
It’s not 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 falls be caused by hearing loss
In order to figure out why hearing aids can help prevent falls, it helps to ask a related question: does hearing loss make you more likely to fall to begin with? In some cases, it seems that the answer is a definite affirmative.
So the question is, why would the risk of falling be increased by hearing loss?
There isn’t exactly an intuitive connection. 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 increased risk of falling, can be a consequence of some hearing loss symptoms. Some of those symptoms include:
- Loss of balance: How is your balance affected by hearing loss? Well, your overall balance depends heavily on your inner ear. So you may find yourself dizzy, experience vertigo, and lose your balance when hearing loss impacts the inner ear. Because of this, you could fall down more often.
- Depression: Neglected hearing loss can result in social isolation and depression (along with an increased risk of dementia). When you’re socially isolated, you might be more likely to stay at home, where tripping dangers are everywhere, and be less likely to have help close at hand.
- You have less situational awareness: You might not be capable of hearing 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 may be significantly affected, in other words. Can hearing loss make you clumsy in this way? Well, in a way yes, day-to-day tasks can become more dangerous if your situational awareness is jeopardized. And your chance of stumbling into something and falling will be slightly higher.
- 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 tell you’re in a large space? Or when you jump into a car and you instantly know you’re in close quarters? That’s because your ears are using high-pitched sounds to help you “echolocate,” more or less. When you’re unable to hear high-pitch sounds because of hearing loss, you can’t make those judgments quite as rapidly or easily. Loss of situational awareness and disorientation can be the outcome.
- Exhaustion: When you have neglected hearing loss, your ears are constantly straining, and your brain is often working overtime. This means your brain is exhausted more often than not. A weary brain is less likely to detect that obstacle in your path, and, as a result, you may end up tripping and falling over something that an attentive brain would have detected.
Age is also a consideration with regard to hearing loss-induced falls. You’re more likely to experience progressing and permanent 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 the danger of falling be reduced by using hearing aids?
It makes sense that hearing aids would be part of the remedy when hearing loss is the problem. And new research has confirmed that. One recent study found 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 clear. That’s partially because people frequently fail to use their hearing aids. So it was inconclusive how often hearing aid users were having a fall. This was because individuals weren’t using their hearing aids, not because their hearing aids were malfunctioning.
But this new research took a different (and perhaps more accurate) strategy. People who wore their hearing aids often were classified into a different group than people who used them occasionally.
So how can you prevent falls by using hearing aids? They keep you less fatigued, more focused, and generally more alert. The increased situational awareness doesn’t hurt either. Additionally, many hearing aids come with safety features created to activate in the case of a fall. This can mean you get assistance faster (this is critical for people older than 65).
But the trick here is to be certain you’re using your hearing aids often and consistently.
Prevent falls with new hearing aids
You will be able to remain close to your loved ones if you wear hearing aids, not to mention catch up with friends.
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.