When you’re a youngster, falling is simply a part of life. Wiping out on your bicycle? Not unusual. Getting tripped up when sprinting across the yard. Happens all of the time. Kids are quite limber so, no big deal. They don’t usually stay down for long.
The same can’t be said as you age. Falling becomes more and more of a concern as you grow older. In part, that’s because your bones generally break more easily (and heal slower). Older individuals might have a more difficult time getting up after falling, so they spend more time in pain lying on the floor. Falling is the leading injury-related cause of death as a result.
That’s why tools and devices that can minimize falls are always being sought after by healthcare professionals. New research appears to indicate that we might have discovered one such device: hearing aids.
Can hearing loss bring about falls?
In order to figure out why hearing aids can help prevent falls, it helps to ask a relevant question: does hearing loss make a fall more likely in the first place? It seems as though the answer may be, yes.
So why does hearing loss raise the danger of a fall for people?
That connection isn’t exactly intuitive. Hearing loss doesn’t really, after all, affect your ability to move or see. But it turns out there are some symptoms of hearing loss that do have this kind of direct effect on your ability to move around, and these symptoms can result in a higher danger of having a fall. Some of those symptoms include:
- Loss of balance: How is your balance affected by hearing loss? Well, your general balance depends heavily on your inner ear. So when hearing loss affects your inner ear, you might find yourself a little more likely to grow dizzy, experience vertigo, or have difficulty maintaining your balance. As a result of this, you may fall down more often.
- Exhaustion: When you have neglected hearing loss, your ears are continuously straining, and your brain is often working overtime. This means your brain is exhausted more frequently than not. 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 seen.
- Your situational awareness is impaired: You might not be capable of hearing the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps, the barking dog next door, or an oncoming vehicle when you have untreated hearing loss. In other words, your situational awareness might be substantially affected. Can you become clumsy like this because of hearing loss? Well, in a way yes, everyday activities can become more dangerous if your situational awareness is jeopardized. And your risk of stumbling into something and having a fall will be slightly higher.
- You’re unable to hear high-frequency sounds: You know how when you go into an auditorium, you immediately know that you’re in a huge venue, even if your eyes are closed? Or how you can immediately detect that you’re in a small space when you get into a vehicle. Your ears are actually using something similar to “echolocation” and high-frequency sound to assist your spatial awareness. You will lose the ability to rapidly make those assessments when hearing loss causes you to lose those high-pitched tones. This can result in disorientation and loss of situational awareness.
- Depression: Social isolation and possibly even mental decline can be the result of untreated hearing loss. When you’re socially isolated, you may be more likely to stay at home, where tripping hazards abound, and be less likely to have help nearby.
Part of the connection between hearing loss and falling is also in your age. You’re more likely to develop progressing and permanent hearing loss. That will raise the chance of falling. And when you’re older, falling can have much more severe repercussions.
How can the danger of falling be lowered by using hearing aids?
If hearing loss is part of the issue, it makes sense that hearing aids would be part of the remedy. And this is being validated by new research. Your danger of falling could be lowered by as much as 50% based on one study.
The connection between staying on your feet and hearing loss wasn’t always this clear. That’s partially because individuals frequently fail to use their hearing aids. So it was inconclusive how frequently hearing aid users were falling. 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) approach. Individuals who used their hearing aids frequently were classified into a different group than people who wore them intermittently.
So how can you avoid falls by using hearing aids? They keep you less exhausted, more focused, and generally more vigilant. It doesn’t hurt that you have increased situational awareness. Many hearing aids also come with a feature that can notify the authorities and family members in case of a fall. Help will come quicker this way.
Consistently using your hearing aids is the key here.
Invest in your fall prevention devices today
You will be able to remain close to your family members if you use hearing aids, not to mention catch up with friends.
They can also help you remain on your feet, literally!
Schedule an appointment with us right away if you want to learn more about how your quality of life can be enhanced.