When you’re a youngster, falling is just a part of life. Taking a spill on your bicycle? That’s typical. Getting tripped up while running across the yard. Also rather typical. It isn’t really a worry because, well, kids are pretty limber. They bounce back very easily.
The same cannot be said as you age. The older you get, the more concerning a fall can become. In part, that’s because your bones tend to break more easily (and heal slower). Older individuals tend to spend more time lying on the floor in pain because they have a more difficult time getting back up. Because of this, falls are the number one injury-related cause of death in people older than 65.
It’s not surprising, then, that healthcare professionals are always on the hunt 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?
If you want to fully grasp how hearing aids could potentially prevent a fall, you need to ask this related question: is it feasible that hearing loss can increase your risk of falling? It looks as though the answer may be, yes.
So why does hearing loss raise the danger of a fall for people?
There’s not exactly an intuitive connection. After all, hearing loss doesn’t directly impact your ability to move or see. But it turns out there are certain symptoms of hearing loss that do have this type of direct effect on your ability to move around, and these symptoms can result in an increased risk of having a fall. Here are a few of those symptoms:
- Exhaustion: When you have neglected hearing loss, your ears are constantly straining, and your brain is often working extra hard. Your brain will be continuously exhausted as a consequence. An alert brain will detect and avoid obstacles, which will lessen the risk of having a fall.
- High-pitched sounds get lost: 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 immediately 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,” more or less. When you’re unable to hear high-frequency sounds due to hearing loss, you can’t make those assessments quite as rapidly or easily. Loss of situational awareness and disorientation can be the result.
- Your situational awareness is impaired: When you have untreated hearing loss, you might not be as able to hear that oncoming vehicle, or the dog barking next to you, or the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps. In other words, your situational awareness may be significantly impacted. Can you become clumsy like this as a result of hearing loss? Well, in a way yes, day-to-day activities can become more dangerous if your situational awareness is jeopardized. And that means you could be slightly more likely to unintentionally bump into something, and have a tumble.
- Depression: Neglected hearing loss can cause social isolation and depression (along with an increased risk of dementia). When you’re socially isolated, you might be more likely to stay at home, where tripping dangers are everywhere, and be less likely to have help close at hand.
- Loss of balance: How is your balance affected by hearing loss? Well, your inner ear is extremely significant to your total equilibrium. So you might find yourself dizzy, experience vertigo, and lose your balance when hearing loss affects your inner ear. Essentially, you have a tendency to fall more frequently.
Age is also a consideration with regard to hearing loss-related falls. As you age, you’re more likely to experience irreversible and advancing hearing loss. That will increase the likelihood of falling. Consequently, when you get older, falls are more likely to have severe consequences.
How can the danger of falling be reduced by using hearing aids?
It seems logical that hearing aids would be part of the remedy when hearing loss is the problem. And new research has borne that out. Your danger of falling could be reduced by as much as 50% according to one study.
The connection between staying on your feet and hearing loss wasn’t always this obvious. That’s to some extent because people frequently fail to wear their hearing aids. As a result, falls among “hearing aid users” were often inconclusive. This was because individuals weren’t wearing their hearing aids, not because their hearing aids were broken.
The method of this research was carried out differently and perhaps more accurately. Individuals who wore their hearing aids now and again were segregated from people who used them all of the time.
So why does using your hearing aids help you prevent falls? In general, they keep you more vigilant, more focused, and less tired. The increased situational awareness doesn’t hurt either. Additionally, many hearing aids come with safety features designed to trigger in the case of a fall. Help will come quicker this way.
Consistently using your hearing aids is the trick here.
Invest in your fall prevention devices today
You will be able to remain close to your family members if you wear hearing aids, not to mention catch up with friends.
They can also help prevent a fall!
Make an appointment with us right away if you want to learn more about how your quality of life can be enhanced.