When you’re a kid, falling is simply a part of life. Wiping out on your bike? That’s typical. Getting tripped up when sprinting across the yard. Happens all of the time. It isn’t really a concern because, well, kids are kind of limber. They rebound pretty easily.
The same can’t be said as you age. Falling becomes more and more of a concern as you age. In part, that’s because your bones generally break more easily (and heal slower). Older individuals may have a harder time standing back up after a fall, 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 decrease falls are always being sought out by healthcare professionals. Hearing aids may be just such a device according to research.
Can falls be caused by hearing loss
In order to determine why hearing aids can help prevent falls, it helps to ask a related question: is it feasible that hearing loss can increase your chance of falling? In some instances, it seems that the answer is a strong affirmative.
So the question is, why would the risk of falling be raised by hearing loss?
That connection isn’t really that intuitive. Hearing loss doesn’t really, after all, affect your ability to see or move. But this sort of direct impact on your mobility, and an elevated risk of falling, can be a consequence of some hearing loss symptoms. Here are some of those symptoms:
- You can’t 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 immediately know you’re in a small space? Your ears are actually utilizing something like “echolocation” and high-frequency sound to assist your spatial awareness. You will lose the ability to quickly make those assessments when hearing loss causes you to lose those high-pitched tones. This can lead to disorientation and loss of situational awareness.
- Loss of balance: How is your balance affected by hearing loss? Well, your overall balance depends greatly on your inner ear. So when hearing loss impacts your inner ear, you might find yourself a little more likely to get dizzy, experience vertigo, or have trouble keeping your balance. In other words, you have a tendency to fall more frequently.
- Depression: Untreated hearing loss can cause social isolation and depression (and also an increased danger of dementia). When you’re socially separated, you might be more likely to stay at home, where tripping dangers abound, 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. In other words, your situational awareness might be significantly impacted. Can loss of hearing make you clumsy in this way? Well, in a way yes, day-to-day tasks can become more hazardous if your situational awareness is jeopardized. And that means you may be a little bit more likely to unintentionally bump into something, and have a fall.
- Exhaustion: Your brain is working overtime and you’re always straining when you have neglected hearing loss. This means your brain is exhausted more frequently than not. A tired brain is less likely to notice that obstacle in your path, and, as a consequence, you may end up tripping and falling over something that an alert brain would have detected.
Part of the connection between falling and hearing loss is also in your age. As you age, you’re more likely to develop irreversible and advancing hearing loss. At the same time, you’re more likely to have a fall. And when you’re older, falling can have much more serious consequences.
How can the danger of falling be decreased by wearing hearing aids?
It makes sense that hearing aids would be part of the solution when hearing loss is the issue. And this is being confirmed by new research. One recent study discovered 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 little fuzzier. That’s partly because people often 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 wearing their hearing aids, not because their hearing aids were malfunctioning.
The method of this research was conducted differently and maybe more precisely. Individuals who used their hearing aids often were put in a different group than people who wore them occasionally.
So why does wearing your hearing aids help you prevent falls? They keep you less exhausted, more concentrated, and generally more vigilant. The increased situational awareness also helped. In addition, many hearing aids come with safety features designed to activate in the case of a fall. Help will arrive quicker this way.
But the trick here is to be sure you’re wearing your hearing aids often and consistently.
Prevent falls with new hearing aids
You will be able to stay close to your loved ones if you wear hearing aids, not to mention catch up with friends.
They can also help prevent a fall!
Schedule an appointment with us today if you want to find out more about how your quality of life can be improved.