When you’re a youngster, falling is just a part of life. Taking a spill on your bicycle? Not unusual. Tripping over your own feet when you’re running outside? Also fairly normal. Kids are very limber so, no big deal. They don’t typically stay down for very long.
The same can’t be said as you age. Falling becomes much more of a worry as you get older. In part, that’s because your bones tend to break more easily (and heal more slowly). Older people tend to spend more time on the floor in pain because they have a harder time getting back up. Falling is the leading injury-associated cause of death as a result.
That’s why tools and devices that can minimize falls are always being sought out by healthcare professionals. Hearing aids could be just such a device according to research.
Can hearing loss cause falls?
In order to understand why hearing aids can help avert falls, it helps to ask a relevant question: does hearing loss make you more likely to fall in the first place? In some cases, it appears that the answer is a strong yes.
So you have to ask yourself, why would the danger of falling be raised by hearing loss?
That association isn’t exactly intuitive. Hearing loss doesn’t really, after all, impact your ability to see or move. But it turns out there are a few symptoms of hearing loss that do have this kind of direct impact on your ability to get around, and these symptoms can result in an increased risk of falling. Some of those symptoms include:
- Depression: Untreated hearing loss can lead to social solitude and depression (and also an increased danger of dementia). When you’re socially separated, you may be more likely to stay at home, where tripping hazards are everywhere, and be less likely to have help nearby.
- Your situational awareness is impaired: You might not be able to hear the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps, the dog barking next door, or an approaching vehicle when you have untreated hearing loss. In other words, your situational awareness might be substantially impacted. Can loss of hearing make you clumsy in this way? Well, sort of, loss of situational awareness can make daily activities a bit more dangerous. And that means you could be slightly more likely to accidentally stumble into something, and have a fall.
- Exhaustion: When you have untreated hearing loss, your ears are always straining, and your brain is always working extra hard. This means your brain is worn out more often than not. A weary brain is less likely to detect that obstacle in your path, and, as a result, you might end up tripping and falling over something that an alert brain would have detected.
- You can’t hear high-frequency sounds: You know how when you walk into a concert hall, you instantly detect that you’re in a large 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. That’s because your ears are utilizing high-pitched sounds to help you “echolocate,” more or less. When you’re unable to hear high-frequency sounds because of hearing loss, you can’t make those assessments quite as quickly or intuitively. This can result in disorientation and loss of situational awareness.
- Loss of balance: How is your balance affected by hearing loss? Well, your general balance depends greatly on your inner ear. So you might find yourself dizzy, experience vertigo, and lose your balance when hearing loss impacts your inner ear. Essentially, you have a tendency to fall more frequently.
Part of the connection between hearing loss and falling is also in your age. You’re more likely to experience progressing and irreversible hearing loss. That will increase the probability 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 issue. And new research has borne that out. One recent study discovered that wearing hearing aids could cut your chance of a fall in half.
The relationship between staying on your feet and hearing loss wasn’t always this obvious. Partly, that’s because not everybody uses their hearing aids all of the time. So it was inconclusive how often hearing aid users were having a fall. This wasn’t because the hearing aids weren’t working, it was because individuals weren’t wearing them.
But this new study took a different (and maybe more accurate) approach. Those who used their hearing aids frequently were classified into a different group than those who wore them intermittently.
So how can you prevent falls by wearing hearing aids? Generally speaking, they keep you more vigilant, more focused, and less fatigued. It doesn’t hurt that you have added situational awareness. In addition, many hearing aids include safety features created to activate in the case of a fall. Help will come quicker this way.
Consistently wearing 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 time with your family members, and remain connected to everyone who’s important in your life.
They can also help you remain on your feet, literally!
If you want to learn more about how hearing aids could help you, make an appointment with us today.