Kids tend to fall on a daily basis. Wiping out on your bike? That’s normal. Stumbling over your own feet while you’re running outside? Also fairly normal. Kids are very limber so, no big deal. They don’t typically stay down for long.
As you get older though, that becomes less and less true. The older you get, the more worrisome a fall can be. To some extent, that’s because your bones generally break more easily (and heal more slowly). Older individuals might have a more difficult time getting up after a fall, so they spend more time in pain lying on the floor. Consequently, falls are the number one injury-related cause of death in people over 65.
That’s why tools and devices that can reduce falls are always being sought out by healthcare professionals. Hearing aids could be just such a device according to research.
Can hearing loss lead to falls?
In order to understand why hearing aids can help prevent falls, it helps to ask a related question: is it possible that hearing loss can increase your risk of having a fall? In some situations, it appears that the answer is a strong yes.
So you have to ask yourself, why would the danger of falling be increased by hearing loss?
There isn’t exactly an intuitive connection. Hearing loss doesn’t really, after all, impact your ability to move or see. But it turns out there are some symptoms of hearing loss that do have this type of direct impact on your ability to get around, and these symptoms can lead to an increased danger of having a fall. Some of those symptoms include:
- Exhaustion: When you’re dealing with neglected hearing loss, your ears are continuously straining, and your brain is often working overtime. This means your brain is exhausted more frequently than not. A tired 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.
- Depression: Untreated hearing loss can cause social isolation and depression (and also an increased risk of dementia). You are likely to be at home a lot more when you’re socially separated, and tripping hazards will be all around without anyone to help you.
- You can’t hear high-frequency sounds: You know how when you go into a concert hall, you immediately detect that you’re in a spacious venue, even if your eyes are closed? Or when you jump into a car and you instantly know you’re in a small space? That’s because your ears are utilizing high-pitched sounds to help you “echolocate,” more or less. You will lose the ability to rapidly make those judgment calls when hearing loss causes you to lose those high-pitched tones. Loss of situational awareness and disorientation can be the outcome.
- Loss of balance: How does hearing loss effect your balance? Well, your general balance depends greatly on your inner ear. So you may find yourself dizzy, experience vertigo, and lose your balance when hearing loss impacts your inner ear. As a result of this, you could fall down more frequently.
- You have less situational awareness: You might not be capable of hearing the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps, the barking dog next door, or an oncoming vehicle when you have neglected hearing loss. In other words, your situational awareness might be significantly impacted. Can you become clumsy like this due to hearing loss? Well, in a way yes, everyday tasks can become more hazardous if your situational awareness is jeopardized. And your risk of bumping into something and having a fall will be a little higher.
Part of the link between hearing loss and falling is also in your age. As you grow 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 consequences.
How can the risk of falling be lowered by using hearing aids?
If hearing loss is part of the issue, it makes sense that hearing aids would be part of the solution. 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 figures (and the connection between hearing aids and remaining on your feet) were a bit fuzzier. In part, that’s because not everyone wears their hearing aids all of the time. So it was inconclusive how frequently hearing aid users were having a fall. This was because people weren’t wearing their hearing aids, not because their hearing aids were broken.
But this new research took a different (and maybe more accurate) strategy. People who wore their hearing aids now and again were separated from people who wore them all of the time.
So why does wearing your hearing aids help you prevent falls? They keep you less exhausted, more focused, and generally more vigilant. The increased situational awareness also helped. In addition, many hearing aids include safety features designed to activate in the case of a fall. This can mean you get assistance faster (this is critical for people 65 or older).
But the trick here is to be sure you’re using your hearing aids frequently and consistently.
Prevent falls with new hearing aids
You will be able to stay close to your family members if you use hearing aids, not to mention catch up with friends.
They can also help you stay on your feet, literally!
Schedule an appointment with us today if you want to know more about how your quality of life can be enhanced.