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 while you’re running outside? Happens all of the time. Kids are pretty limber so, no big deal. They bounce back very easily.
As you grow older though, that becomes less and less true. Falling becomes much more of a worry as you get older. One reason for this is that bones break easier and heal slower when you’re older. Older people may have a more difficult time getting up after a fall, so they spend more time in pain on the floor. Falling is the leading injury-related cause of death as a result.
That’s why tools and devices that can decrease falls are always being sought after by healthcare professionals. Hearing aids might be just such a device according to research.
Can hearing loss cause falls?
If you want to understand how hearing aids could possibly prevent a fall, you need to ask this relevant question: does hearing loss make you more likely to fall to begin with? It looks as though the answer may be, yes.
So the question is, why would the danger of falling be raised by hearing loss?
That link isn’t exactly intuitive. Hearing loss doesn’t really, after all, affect your ability to see or move. But it turns out there are certain symptoms of hearing loss that do have this type of direct effect on your ability to get around, and these symptoms can result in a higher danger of falling. Some of those symptoms include:
- You can’t hear high-frequency sounds: You know how when you go into a concert hall, you instantly know that you’re in a spacious venue, even if your eyes are closed? Or when you jump into a car and you immediately know you’re in a small space? That’s because your ears are using 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 quickly or intuitively. Loss of situational awareness and disorientation can be the outcome.
- Exhaustion: When you have neglected hearing loss, your ears are always straining, and your brain is often working overtime. This means your brain is tired more frequently than not. An exhausted brain is less likely to see that obstacle in your path, and, as a consequence, you may end up tripping and falling over something that an alert brain would have noticed.
- Loss of balance: How can hearing loss impact your balance? Well, your overall balance depends greatly on your inner ear. So when hearing loss affects 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.
- Depression: Untreated hearing loss can result in social solitude and depression (along with an increased danger of dementia). You are likely to be at home a lot more when you’re socially separated, and tripping dangers will be all around without anybody to help you.
- Your situational awareness is impaired: When you have untreated hearing loss, you might not be as able to hear that approaching vehicle, or the dog barking beside you, or the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps. In other words, your situational awareness might be significantly affected. Can loss of hearing make you clumsy in this way? Well, in a way yes, day-to-day activities can become more dangerous if your situational awareness is compromised. And your chance of stumbling into something and falling will be a little higher.
Part of the connection between falling and hearing loss is also in your age. As you get older, you’re more likely to develop permanent and advancing hearing loss. That will raise the likelihood of falling. And when you’re older, falling can have much more serious consequences.
How can hearing aids help decrease falls?
If hearing loss is part of the issue, it makes sense that hearing aids should be part of the remedy. And this is being validated by new research. One recent study found 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 on your feet) were a little bit less clear. Partly, 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 wasn’t because the hearing aids were malfunctioning, it was because people weren’t wearing them.
But this new study took a different (and perhaps more accurate) approach. People who used their hearing aids now and then were segregated from people who used them all of the time.
So how can you avoid falls by wearing hearing aids? They keep you less fatigued, more focused, and generally more alert. It doesn’t hurt that you have increased spatial awareness. Additionally, many hearing aids have safety features designed to activate in the case of a fall. Help will arrive faster this way.
Consistently wearing your hearing aids is the trick here.
Prevent falls with new hearing aids
Hearing aids can help you reunite with your friends, enjoy quality time with your loved ones, and remain connected to everybody who’s significant in your life.
They can also help you stay on your feet, literally!
If you want to find out more about how hearing aids could help you, schedule an appointment with us right away.