When you’re a kid, falling is just a part of life. Wiping out on your bicycle? That’s normal. Getting tripped up when running across the yard. Happens every day. It’s not really a concern because, well, kids are pretty limber. 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 become. One reason for this is that bones are more brittle and heal slower when you’re older. Older people tend to spend more time lying on the floor in pain because they have a more difficult time getting back up. Falling is the leading injury-related cause of death as a result.
It isn’t shocking, then, that healthcare professionals are always on the hunt for tools and devices that can lessen falls. Hearing aids could be just such a device according to research.
Can hearing loss cause falls?
If you want to fully grasp how hearing aids could potentially prevent a fall, you need to ask this relevant question: does hearing loss make a fall more likely to begin with? It looks as if the answer may be, yes.
So why does hearing loss increase the risk of a fall for people?
That association isn’t exactly intuitive. Hearing loss doesn’t really, after all, impact 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 result in an increased danger of having a fall. Some of those symptoms include:
- High-frequency sounds get lost: You know how when you walk into an auditorium, you immediately detect that you’re in a huge venue, even if you close your eyes? Or when you jump into a car and you instantly 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-frequency sounds due to hearing loss, you can’t make those assessments quite as rapidly or intuitively. This can result in disorientation and loss of situational awareness.
- Your situational awareness is impaired: You may not be capable of hearing the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps, the dog barking next door, or an oncoming vehicle when you have untreated hearing loss. Your situational awareness may be significantly impacted, in other words. Can hearing loss make you clumsy like this? Well, kind of, loss of situational awareness can make daily activities a little more dangerous. And that means you may be slightly more likely to accidentally stumble into something, and take a tumble.
- Depression: Social isolation and possibly even mental decline can be the outcome of untreated hearing loss. When you’re socially isolated, you might be more likely to spend time at home, where tripping hazards are everywhere, and be less likely to have help close at hand.
- Exhaustion: Your brain is working overtime and you’re always straining when you have untreated hearing loss. Your brain will be continuously exhausted as a consequence. A tired brain is less likely to detect that obstacle in your path, and, as a result, you may end up tripping and falling over something that an attentive brain would have seen.
- Loss of balance: How is your balance affected by hearing loss? Well, your general balance depends heavily on your inner ear. So you might find yourself dizzy, experience vertigo, and lose your balance when hearing loss impacts the inner ear. Because of this, you may fall down more often.
Age is also a factor with regard to hearing loss-associated falls. As you age, you’re more likely to develop permanent and advancing hearing loss. That will raise the chance of falling. As a result, when you get older, falls are more likely to have serious consequences.
How can hearing aids help minimize falls?
It makes sense that hearing aids would be part of the remedy when hearing loss is the problem. And this is being validated by new research. Your risk of falling could be reduced by as much as 50% based on one study.
The relationship between staying on your feet and hearing loss wasn’t always this evident. That’s partially because people 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 weren’t working, it was because people weren’t wearing them.
But this new study took a different (and maybe more accurate) strategy. Individuals who wore their hearing aids now and then were segregated from individuals who wore them all of the time.
So why does using your hearing aids help you prevent falls? They keep you less fatigued, more focused, and generally more alert. The added situational awareness also helped. Many hearing aids also come with a feature that can notify the authorities and family members in case of a fall. This can mean you get help faster (this is crucial for individuals 65 or older).
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 use hearing aids, not to mention catch up with friends.
They can also help you stay on your feet, literally!
If you want to know more about how hearing aids could help you, make an appointment with us today.