Kids have a tendency to fall pretty much every day. Taking a tumble on your bicycle? That’s normal. Getting tripped up while sprinting across the yard. Also fairly typical. It isn’t really a worry because, well, kids are kind of limber. They don’t usually 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 individuals might have a more difficult time standing back up after falling, so they spend more time in pain lying on the floor. Falling is the leading injury-associated cause of death as a result.
That’s why tools and devices that can reduce falls are always being sought out by healthcare professionals. New research appears to indicate that we might have determined one such device: hearing aids.
Can falls be caused by hearing loss
If you want to fully grasp how hearing aids could possibly prevent a fall, you need to ask this relevant question: is it feasible that hearing loss can raise your risk of having a fall? It appears as though the answer might be, yes.
So you have to ask yourself, why would the danger of falling be increased by hearing loss?
That connection isn’t really that intuitive. After all, hearing loss doesn’t directly influence your ability to move or see. But this sort of direct impact on your mobility, and an elevated risk of falling, can be a result of some hearing loss symptoms. Some of those symptoms include:
- Loss of balance: How is your balance affected by hearing loss? Well, your general balance depends heavily on your inner ear. So when hearing loss impacts your inner ear, you may find yourself a little more likely to grow dizzy, experience vertigo, or have trouble keeping your balance. Essentially, you have a tendency to fall more frequently.
- Exhaustion: When you’re dealing with neglected hearing loss, your ears are continuously straining, and your brain is always working extra hard. Your brain will be continuously exhausted as a result. An exhausted brain is less likely to see that obstacle in your path, and, as a result, you might end up tripping and falling over something that an attentive brain would have noticed.
- High-pitched sounds get lost: You know how when you walk into a concert hall, you instantly know that you’re in a huge venue, even if you close your eyes? Or how you can immediately tell that you’re in a small space when you get into a vehicle. Your ears are actually using something similar to “echolocation” and high-frequency sound to help your spatial awareness. When you can no longer hear high-frequency sounds because of hearing loss, you can’t make those judgments quite as quickly or easily. This can cause disorientation and loss of situational awareness.
- Your situational awareness is impaired: When you have neglected hearing loss, you might not be as able to hear that approaching vehicle, or the barking dog next to you, or the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps. Your situational awareness could be substantially impacted, in other words. Can you become clumsy like this due to hearing loss? Well, kind of, loss of situational awareness can make day-to-day activities a little more dangerous. And that means you might be a little bit more likely to unintentionally stumble into something, and take a tumble.
- Depression: Social solitude and maybe even cognitive decline can be the result of untreated hearing loss. When you’re socially isolated, you might be more likely to stay at home, where tripping hazards abound, and be less likely to have help close at hand.
Age is also a consideration with regard to hearing loss-related falls. As you age, you’re more likely to develop permanent and progressive hearing loss. That will increase the probability of falling. And when you’re older, falling can have much more serious repercussions.
How can hearing aids help minimize falls?
It seems logical that hearing aids would be part of the solution 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.
In the past, these figures (and the link between hearing aids and staying upright) were a bit less clear. In part, that’s because not everyone uses their hearing aids all of the time. So it was inconclusive how frequently hearing aid users were having a fall. This was because individuals weren’t using their hearing aids, not because their hearing aids were broken.
The approach of this study was carried out differently and perhaps more precisely. Those who wore their hearing aids frequently were put in a different group than those who wore them intermittently.
So how can you prevent falls by using hearing aids? In general, they keep you more vigilant, more focused, and less tired. It doesn’t hurt that you have increased situational awareness. In addition, many hearing aids have safety features designed to trigger in the case of a fall. This can mean you get assistance quicker (this is critical for individuals 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
Hearing aids can help you catch up with your friends, enjoy quality time with your family members, and remain in touch with everyone who’s important in your life.
They can also help you stay on your feet, literally!
If you want to learn more about how hearing aids could help you, make an appointment with us today.