When you’re a kid, falling is just a part of life. Taking a spill on your bicycle? That’s normal. Stumbling over your own feet when you’re running outside? Also fairly typical. It isn’t really a worry because, well, kids are quite limber. They rebound pretty easily.
As you grow older though, that becomes less and less true. The older you get, the more concerning a fall can be. To some extent, that’s because your bones tend to break more easily (and heal slower). Older people might have a more difficult time standing back up after a tumble, so they spend more time in pain on the floor. 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 lookout for tools and devices that can decrease falls. New research appears to suggest that we might have determined one such device: hearing aids.
Can falls be caused by hearing loss
In order to determine why hearing aids can help prevent falls, it helps to ask a relevant question: is it possible that hearing loss can increase your risk of having a fall? It looks as if the answer may be, yes.
So why does hearing loss raise the danger of a fall for people?
There’s not really an intuitive association. After all, hearing loss does not directly impact your ability to move or see. But this kind 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:
- Depression: Untreated hearing loss can result in social isolation and depression (along with an increased danger of dementia). When you’re socially separated, you might be more likely to stay at home, where tripping hazards are everywhere, and be less likely to have help nearby.
- Loss of balance: How does hearing loss effect your balance? Well, your inner ear is extremely significant to your total equilibrium. So when hearing loss affects your inner ear, you might find yourself a bit more likely to grow dizzy, experience vertigo, or have difficulty keeping your balance. As a result of this, you may fall down more frequently.
- Your situational awareness is impaired: You may not be capable of hearing the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps, the barking dog next door, or an approaching vehicle when you have untreated hearing loss. Your situational awareness might be significantly impacted, in other words. Can you become clumsy like this because of hearing loss? Well, in a way yes, everyday tasks can become more hazardous if your situational awareness is compromised. And that means you could be a little bit more likely to accidentally stumble into something, and take a fall.
- Exhaustion: Your brain is working extra hard and you’re always straining when you have untreated hearing loss. Your brain will be continuously exhausted as a result. An exhausted brain is less likely to detect that obstacle in your path, and, as a consequence, you may wind up tripping and falling over something that an attentive brain would have seen.
- High-pitched sounds get lost: When you go into a stadium, you know how even if your eyes are closed, you can tell you’re in a huge space? Or when you get into a car and you instantly know you’re in close quarters? Your ears are actually utilizing 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. Loss of situational awareness and disorientation can be the outcome.
Part of the connection between hearing loss and falling is also in your age. You’re more likely to develop progressing and irreversible hearing loss. That will raise the chance of falling. And when you’re older, falling can have much more severe consequences.
How can hearing aids help reduce falls?
If hearing loss is part of the issue, it makes sense that hearing aids should be part of the remedy. And this is being confirmed by new research. One recent study discovered that using hearing aids could cut your risk of a fall in half.
In the past, these numbers (and the connection between hearing aids and remaining upright) were a little less clear. That’s partially because individuals frequently fail to use their hearing aids. As a consequence, falls among “hearing aid users” were often inconclusive. This wasn’t because the hearing aids were malfunctioning, it was because people weren’t wearing them.
But this new study took a different (and maybe more accurate) approach. People who used their hearing aids now and then were separated from individuals who wore them all of the time.
So how can you prevent falls by using hearing aids? They keep you less fatigued, more concentrated, and generally more vigilant. The added situational awareness doesn’t hurt either. In addition, many hearing aids have safety features created to trigger in the case of a fall. This can mean you get assistance faster (this is critical for people 65 or older).
Consistently using your hearing aids is the key here.
Invest in your fall prevention devices today
Hearing aids can help you catch up with your friends, enjoy quality time with your loved ones, and remain connected to everybody who’s important in your life.
They can also help prevent a fall!
If you want to learn more about how hearing aids could help you, schedule an appointment with us today.