When you’re a kid, falling is just a part of life. Taking a tumble on your bicycle? Not unusual. Tripping over your own feet while you’re running outside? Happens all of the time. It isn’t really a worry because, well, kids are quite limber. They bounce back quite easily.
As you grow older though, that becomes less and less true. The older you get, the more concerning a fall can become. To some extent, that’s because your bones generally break more easily (and heal slower). Older individuals may have a more difficult time getting up after a tumble, 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 after by healthcare professionals. New research appears to indicate that we might have determined one such device: hearing aids.
Can falls be caused by hearing loss
If you want to fully grasp how hearing aids could possibly prevent a fall, you need to ask this relevant question: does hearing loss make a fall more likely to begin with? In some instances, it seems that the answer is a strong affirmative.
So you have to ask yourself, why would the risk of falling be increased by hearing loss?
There’s not exactly an intuitive connection. After all, hearing loss does not directly impact your ability to move or see. But this type of direct impact on your mobility, and an increased danger of falling, can be a consequence of some hearing loss symptoms. Some of those symptoms include:
- Your situational awareness is impaired: When you have neglected hearing loss, you may not be as able to hear that approaching vehicle, or the barking dog beside you, or the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps. In other words, your situational awareness might be substantially affected. Can loss of hearing make you clumsy in this way? Well, sort of, loss of situational awareness can make everyday tasks a bit more hazardous. And that means you could be a little bit more likely to accidentally bump into something, and take a fall.
- You can’t hear high-frequency sounds: You know how when you walk into a concert hall, you immediately know that you’re in a spacious venue, even if your eyes are closed? Or how you can immediately tell that you’re in a small space when you get into a vehicle. Your ears are actually utilizing something similar to “echolocation” and high-frequency sound to help your spatial awareness. 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 significant 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 frequently.
- Exhaustion: Your brain is working extra hard and you’re always straining when you have neglected hearing loss. Your brain will be constantly exhausted as a consequence. An attentive brain will notice and avoid obstacles, which will decrease the likelihood of having a fall.
- Depression: Neglected hearing loss can cause social isolation and depression (not to mention an increased risk of dementia). You are likely to stay home a lot more when you’re socially isolated, and tripping hazards will be all around without anyone to help you.
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. That will increase the chance of falling. And when you’re older, falling can have much more severe consequences.
How can the risk of falling be reduced by using hearing aids?
If hearing loss is part of the problem, it makes sense that hearing aids would be part of the remedy. And new research has confirmed that. Your danger of falling could be reduced by up to 50% according to one study.
In the past, these figures (and the relationship between hearing aids and staying upright) were a bit fuzzier. That’s to some extent because individuals often fail to wear 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 maybe more accurate) strategy. Individuals who wore their hearing aids now and again were separated from people who wore them all of the time.
So why does using your hearing aids help you prevent falls? In general, they keep you more alert, more focused, and less tired. It also helps that you have added situational awareness. Additionally, many hearing aids have safety features designed to trigger in the case of a fall. This can mean you get assistance quicker (this is critical for individuals older than 65).
Regularly using your hearing aids is the trick here.
Get your fall prevention devices today
Hearing aids can help you catch up with your friends, enjoy quality moments with your loved ones, and stay connected to everybody who’s significant in your life.
They can also help you stay on your feet, literally!
Schedule an appointment with us today if you want to find out more about how your quality of life can be enhanced.