When you’re a kid, falling is just a part of life. Taking a tumble on your bicycle? That’s normal. Tripping over your own feet when you’re running outside? Happens all of the time. It isn’t really a worry because, well, kids are kind of limber. They don’t typically stay down for long.
The same cannot be said as you age. The older you get, the more concerning a fall can become. One reason for this is that bones break easier and heal slower when you’re older. Older individuals tend to spend more time lying on the floor in pain because they have a more difficult time getting back up. As a result, falls are the number one injury-connected cause of death in people over 65.
It isn’t shocking, then, that healthcare professionals are always on the hunt for tools and devices that can lessen falls. New research seems to suggest that we may have discovered one such device: hearing aids.
Can hearing loss cause falls?
If you want to understand how hearing aids could possibly prevent a fall, you need to ask this related question: is it feasible that hearing loss can raise your risk of having a fall? It appears as though the answer may be, yes.
So you have to ask yourself, why would the risk of falling be raised by hearing loss?
There isn’t really an intuitive association. Hearing loss doesn’t really, after all, impact your ability to see or move. 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:
- You have less situational awareness: 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 in this way as a result of hearing loss? Well, in a way yes, daily activities can become more hazardous if your situational awareness is compromised. And that means you may be a little bit more likely to accidentally stumble into something, and have a fall.
- Exhaustion: Your brain is working extra hard and you’re always straining when you have neglected hearing loss. Your brain will be continuously tired as a consequence. An exhausted brain is less likely to see that obstacle in your path, and, as a consequence, you may end up tripping and falling over something that an attentive brain would have seen.
- Depression: Untreated hearing loss can result in social isolation and depression (along with an increased risk of dementia). You are likely to be at home a lot more when you’re socially separated, and tripping hazards will be all around without anyone to help you.
- You can’t hear high-frequency sounds: When you go into an arena, you know how even if your eyes are closed, you can tell you’re in a large space? Or how you can instantly detect that you’re in a small space when you get into a car. That’s because your ears are utilizing high-pitched sounds to help you “echolocate,” basically. You will lose the ability to quickly make those assessments when hearing loss causes you to lose those high-frequency tones. This can cause disorientation and loss of situational awareness.
- Loss of balance: How is your balance impacted by hearing loss? Well, your inner ear is extremely important to your total equilibrium. So when hearing loss affects your inner ear, you might find yourself a little more likely to grow dizzy, experience vertigo, or have trouble keeping your balance. In other words, you have a tendency to fall more often.
Age is also a factor when it comes to hearing loss-associated 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 hearing aids help reduce falls?
If hearing loss is part of the problem, it makes sense that hearing aids should be part of the remedy. And new research has confirmed that. Your danger of falling could be decreased by as much as 50% based on one study.
In the past, these figures (and the link between hearing aids and staying upright) were a little bit less clear. That’s partly because people often fail to use their hearing aids. So it was inconclusive how often hearing aid users were falling. This wasn’t because the hearing aids weren’t working, it was because people weren’t using them.
The method of this study was conducted differently and maybe more effectively. Individuals who wore their hearing aids now and then were separated from individuals who wore them all of the time.
So why does wearing your hearing aids help you avoid falls? They keep you less exhausted, more concentrated, and generally more alert. The increased situational awareness doesn’t hurt either. Many hearing aids also include a feature that can notify the authorities and family members in case of a fall. This can mean you get assistance quicker (this is critical for people 65 or older).
But the trick here is to make sure you’re using your hearing aids frequently and regularly.
Prevent falls with new hearing aids
Hearing aids can help you catch up with your friends, enjoy quality time with your family members, and remain in touch with everybody who’s significant in your life.
They can also help prevent a fall!
If you want to know more about how hearing aids could help you, schedule an appointment with us today.