When you’re a kid, falling is just a part of life. Wiping out on your bike? That’s typical. Getting tripped up while running across the yard. Happens all of the time. It’s not really a concern because, well, kids are quite limber. They don’t usually stay down for long.
As you grow older though, that becomes less and less true. 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 more slowly). Older people might have a more difficult time getting up after a fall, so they spend more time in pain lying on the floor. Because of this, 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 lessen falls. Hearing aids could be just such a device according to research.
Can falls be caused by hearing loss
In order to figure out why hearing aids can help prevent falls, it helps to ask a relevant question: does hearing loss make you more likely to fall in the first place? It seems as though the answer may be, yes.
So why does hearing loss raise the risk of a fall for people?
That link isn’t really that intuitive. After all, hearing loss doesn’t directly influence your ability to move or see. But it turns out there are certain symptoms of hearing loss that do have this kind of direct effect on your ability to move around, and these symptoms can lead to a higher risk of having a fall. Here are a few of those symptoms:
- Your situational awareness is impaired: You might not be able to hear the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps, the barking dog next door, or an approaching vehicle when you have neglected hearing loss. In other words, your situational awareness might be significantly impacted. Can you become clumsy in this way as a result of hearing loss? Well, in a way yes, day-to-day tasks can become more dangerous if your situational awareness is compromised. And your risk of stumbling into something and falling will be a little higher.
- Depression: Untreated hearing loss can result in social isolation and depression (not to mention an increased risk of dementia). When you’re socially isolated, you may be more likely to spend time at home, where tripping dangers 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 very important to your total equilibrium. So when hearing loss impacts your inner ear, you might find yourself a bit more likely to grow 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 untreated hearing loss. This means your brain is tired more frequently than not. An alert brain will detect and avoid obstacles, which will decrease the likelihood of having a fall.
- You can’t hear high-frequency sounds: You know how when you go into an auditorium, you instantly know that you’re in a huge venue, even if your eyes are closed? Or when you get into a car and you immediately know you’re in close quarters? That’s because your ears are utilizing high-pitched sounds to help you “echolocate,” more or less. When you can no longer hear high-pitch sounds because of hearing loss, you can’t make those assessments quite as rapidly or intuitively. Loss of situational awareness and disorientation can be the outcome.
Age is also a factor with regard to hearing loss-associated falls. As you get older, you’re more likely to experience irreversible and advancing hearing loss. At the same time, you’re more likely to take a tumble. And when you’re older, falling can have much more severe repercussions.
How can hearing aids help decrease falls?
It seems logical that hearing aids would be part of the solution when hearing loss is the problem. And new research has confirmed that. 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 staying upright) were a little bit less clear. Partly, that’s because not everyone wears their hearing aids all of the time. So it was inconclusive how often hearing aid users were falling. This wasn’t because the hearing aids were malfunctioning, it was because people weren’t wearing them.
But this new research took a different (and maybe more accurate) strategy. Individuals who used their hearing aids now and again were segregated 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 vigilant, more focused, and less tired. The increased situational awareness doesn’t hurt either. Many hearing aids also come with a feature that can alert the authorities and family members if a fall happens. Help will arrive quicker this way.
Regularly wearing your hearing aids is the trick here.
Prevent falls with new hearing aids
Hearing aids can help you catch up with your friends, enjoy quality time with your loved ones, and remain in touch with everyone who’s important in your life.
They can also help prevent a fall!
Make an appointment with us today if you want to find out more about how your quality of life can be improved.