Kids have a tendency to fall on a daily basis. Wiping out on your bike? That’s typical. Getting tripped up when running across the yard. Happens all of the time. It isn’t really a concern because, well, kids are kind of limber. They don’t usually stay down for very long.
The same can’t be said as you get older. Falling becomes more and 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 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-associated cause of death as a result.
It’s not surprising, then, that healthcare professionals are always on the lookout for tools and devices that can reduce falls. New research appears to suggest that we might have found one such device: hearing aids.
Can hearing loss cause 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 to begin with? It looks as if the answer may be, yes.
So the question is, why would the risk of falling be increased by hearing loss?
There’s not really an intuitive link. After all, hearing loss does not directly influence your ability to move or see. But this sort of direct impact on your mobility, and an elevated danger of falling, can be a consequence of some hearing loss symptoms. Some of those symptoms include:
- Your situational awareness is impaired: When you have neglected hearing loss, you may not be as able to hear that approaching vehicle, or the barking dog next to you, or the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps. In other words, your situational awareness might be substantially affected. Can loss of hearing make you clumsy in this way? Well, in a way yes, everyday tasks can become more hazardous if your situational awareness is compromised. And that means you could be a little bit more likely to unintentionally stumble into something, and take a tumble.
- 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 huge space? Or how you can immediately 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,” basically. When you can no longer hear high-frequency sounds because of hearing loss, you can’t make those judgments quite as rapidly or easily. This can lead to disorientation and loss of situational awareness.
- Exhaustion: Your brain is working overtime and you’re always straining when you have neglected hearing loss. Your brain will be continuously exhausted as a result. An exhausted brain is less likely to notice that obstacle in your path, and, as a consequence, you might wind up tripping and falling over something that an alert brain would have noticed.
- Loss of balance: How does hearing loss impact your balance? Well, your general balance depends heavily on your inner ear. So when hearing loss impacts your inner ear, you may find yourself a bit more likely to get dizzy, experience vertigo, or have difficulty maintaining your balance. As a result of this, you could fall down more frequently.
- Depression: Neglected hearing loss can cause social solitude and depression (and also an increased danger of dementia). You are likely to stay home a lot more when you’re socially separated, and tripping hazards will be all around without anyone to help you.
Age is also a factor with regard to hearing loss-associated falls. As you grow older, you’re more likely to experience irreversible and progressive 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 repercussions.
How can hearing aids help decrease falls?
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 revealed that using hearing aids could cut your chance of a fall in half.
In the past, these figures (and the relationship between hearing aids and remaining upright) were a little bit less clear. 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 wearing their hearing aids, not because their hearing aids were malfunctioning.
The approach of this research was conducted differently and perhaps more effectively. Individuals who wore their hearing aids often were put in a different group than those who wore them occasionally.
So how can you avoid falls by wearing hearing aids? They keep you less fatigued, more focused, and generally more vigilant. It doesn’t hurt that you have increased spatial awareness. Many hearing aids also come with a feature that can alert the authorities and family members if a fall happens. This can mean you get help faster (this is essential for people 65 or older).
Regularly 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 remain in touch with everybody who’s important in your life.
They can also help prevent a fall!
If you want to learn more about how hearing aids could help you, make an appointment with us today.