Kids tend to fall on a daily basis. Wiping out on your bicycle? That’s normal. Getting tripped up when sprinting across the yard. Also fairly normal. Kids are pretty limber so, no big deal. They rebound very easily.
As you get older though, that becomes less and less true. Falling becomes much more of a concern as you grow older. In part, that’s because your bones tend to break more easily (and heal more slowly). Older people tend to spend more time on the floor in pain because they have a harder time getting back up. Consequently, falls are the number one injury-related cause of death in people older than 65.
It isn’t surprising, then, that healthcare professionals are always on the lookout for tools and devices that can reduce falls. New research appears to indicate that we might have found one such device: hearing aids.
Can hearing loss bring about falls?
If you want to fully grasp how hearing aids could potentially prevent a fall, you need to ask this relevant question: is it possible that hearing loss can increase your risk of falling? In some instances, it seems that the answer is a definite yes.
So why does hearing loss increase the risk of a fall for people?
That link isn’t really that intuitive. Hearing loss doesn’t really, after all, affect your ability to move or see. But this sort of direct impact on your mobility, and an elevated danger of falling, can be a result of some hearing loss symptoms. Here are a few of those symptoms:
- Exhaustion: When you have neglected hearing loss, your ears are always straining, and your brain is always working extra hard. This means your brain is exhausted more often than not. An exhausted brain is less likely to see that obstacle in your path, and, as a result, you might wind up tripping and falling over something that an alert brain would have seen.
- 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. In other words, your situational awareness might be significantly affected. Can loss of hearing make you clumsy in this way? Well, sort of, loss of situational awareness can make day-to-day tasks a little more dangerous. And your chance of bumping into something and falling will be a little higher.
- High-frequency sounds get lost: You know how when you walk into an auditorium, you immediately detect that you’re in a huge venue, even if you close your eyes? 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-frequency sounds to help you “echolocate,” basically. You will lose the ability to rapidly make those judgment calls when hearing loss causes you to lose those high-frequency tones. Loss of situational awareness and disorientation can be the consequences.
- Loss of balance: How can hearing loss impact your balance? Well, your inner ear is incredibly important to your overall equilibrium. So when hearing loss affects your inner ear, you might find yourself a little more likely to get dizzy, experience vertigo, or have difficulty maintaining your balance. In other words, you have a tendency to fall more often.
- Depression: Neglected hearing loss can result in social isolation and depression (and also an increased risk of dementia). When you’re socially isolated, you may be more likely to spend time at home, where tripping hazards abound, and be less likely to have help close at hand.
Part of the connection between falling and hearing loss is also in your age. You’re more likely to experience progressing and permanent hearing loss. At the same time, you’re more likely to take a tumble. Consequently, when you get older, falls are more likely to have severe repercussions.
How can the danger of falling be decreased by wearing hearing aids?
If hearing loss is part of the issue, it makes sense that hearing aids would be part of the solution. And new research has borne that out. One recent study found that using hearing aids could cut your chance of a fall in half.
In the past, these figures (and the link between hearing aids and staying upright) were a bit less clear. Partly, that’s because not everybody uses their hearing aids all of the time. 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.
But this new study took a different (and maybe more accurate) approach. People who used their hearing aids now and then were segregated from people who used them all of the time.
So why does using your hearing aids help you prevent falls? Generally speaking, they keep you more alert, more concentrated, and less exhausted. The added situational awareness also helped. Additionally, many hearing aids have safety features designed to trigger in the case of a fall. Help will arrive quicker this way.
But the trick here is to make sure you’re wearing 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 significant in your life.
They can also help you stay on your feet, literally!
If you want to know more about how hearing aids could help you, make an appointment with us right away.