Kids tend to fall on a daily basis. Wiping out on your bike? Not unusual. Getting tripped up when sprinting across the yard. Also rather typical. Kids are quite limber so, no big deal. They rebound very easily.
The same can’t be said as you age. The older you get, the more worrisome a fall can be. In part, that’s because your bones generally break more easily (and heal slower). 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-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. Hearing aids might be just such a device according to research.
Can hearing loss cause falls?
In order to figure out why hearing aids can help prevent falls, it helps to ask a relevant question: does hearing loss make you more likely to fall in the first place? It appears as if the answer might 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 this kind of direct impact on your mobility, and an elevated danger of falling, can be a result of some hearing loss symptoms. Here are some of those symptoms:
- High-frequency sounds get lost: You know how when you go into an auditorium, you instantly detect that you’re in a large venue, even if your eyes are closed? Or when you get into a car and you instantly know you’re in a small space? Your ears are actually utilizing something like “echolocation” and high-frequency sound to help your spatial awareness. When you’re unable to hear high-pitch sounds because of hearing loss, you can’t make those assessments quite as rapidly or intuitively. Loss of situational awareness and disorientation can be the result.
- Depression: Social isolation and maybe even mental decline can be the result of neglected hearing loss. You are likely to stay home a lot more when you’re socially isolated, and tripping dangers will be all around without anybody to help you.
- Your situational awareness is impaired: You may not be able to hear the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps, the dog barking next door, or an oncoming vehicle when you have untreated hearing loss. In other words, your situational awareness may be significantly impacted. Can you become clumsy in this way because of hearing loss? Well, kind of, loss of situational awareness can make everyday tasks slightly more hazardous. And your chance of bumping into something and having a fall will be slightly higher.
- Exhaustion: When you have neglected hearing loss, your ears are always 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 notice that obstacle in your path, and, as a consequence, you might end up tripping and falling over something that an attentive brain would have seen.
- Loss of balance: How is your balance impacted by hearing loss? Well, your inner ear is very significant to your total equilibrium. So you may find yourself dizzy, experience vertigo, and lose your balance when hearing loss affects 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. As you age, you’re more likely to experience irreversible and advancing hearing loss. That will increase the probability of falling. Consequently, when you get older, falls are more likely to have severe consequences.
How can hearing aids help reduce 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 confirmed by new research. One recent study revealed that wearing hearing aids could cut your chance of a fall in half.
In the past, these numbers (and the relationship between hearing aids and staying on your feet) were a little bit fuzzier. Partly, that’s because not everyone wears 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.
The method of this research was carried out differently and maybe more accurately. People who used their hearing aids frequently were put in a different group than people who used them occasionally.
So why does wearing your hearing aids help you avoid falls? They keep you less exhausted, more focused, and generally more vigilant. The added situational awareness also helped. In addition, many hearing aids include safety features designed to trigger in the case of a fall. This can mean you get help quicker (this is crucial for people older than 65).
But the trick here is to make sure you’re wearing your hearing aids frequently and consistently.
Invest in your fall prevention devices today
Hearing aids can help you reunite with your friends, enjoy quality moments with your family members, and stay connected to everyone who’s significant in your life.
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 improved.