When you’re a kid, 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? Also pretty typical. Kids are quite limber so, no big deal. They don’t usually stay down for long.
The same can’t be said as you get older. Falling becomes much more of a concern as you grow older. One reason for this is that bones break easier and heal slower when you’re older. Older people might have a harder time standing back up after falling, 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. New research appears to indicate that we may have found one such device: hearing aids.
Can falls be caused by hearing loss
In order to determine why hearing aids can help avert falls, it helps to ask a related question: is it feasible that hearing loss can raise your risk of having a fall? In some instances, it seems that the answer is a definite affirmative.
So why does hearing loss raise the danger of a fall for people?
There’s not really an intuitive association. After all, hearing loss doesn’t directly influence your ability to move or see. 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 lead to an increased risk of falling. Some of those symptoms include:
- Your situational awareness is impaired: When you have neglected hearing loss, you might not be as able to hear that oncoming vehicle, or the barking dog beside you, or the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps. In other words, your situational awareness might be significantly affected. Can you become clumsy like this because of hearing loss? Well, in a way yes, everyday tasks can become more hazardous if your situational awareness is jeopardized. And your risk of bumping into something and having a fall will be a little higher.
- Exhaustion: Your brain is working overtime and you’re always straining when you have neglected hearing loss. Your brain will be constantly tired as a result. An attentive brain will identify and avoid obstacles, which will lessen the chance of falling.
- Loss of balance: How can hearing loss impact your balance? Well, your overall balance depends heavily on your inner ear. So you may find yourself dizzy, experience vertigo, and lose your balance when hearing loss affects your inner ear. As a result of this, you could fall down more often.
- You’re unable to hear high-frequency sounds: You know how when you walk into a concert hall, you immediately detect that you’re in a large venue, even if you close your eyes? Or when you get into a car and you immediately know you’re in a small space? 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 due to hearing loss, you can’t make those judgments quite as quickly or intuitively. Loss of situational awareness and disorientation can be the outcome.
- Depression: Neglected hearing loss can lead to social isolation and depression (along with an increased risk of dementia). When you’re socially isolated, you may be more likely to spend time at home, where tripping hazards abound, and be less likely to have help close at hand.
Part of the connection between hearing loss and falling is also in your age. You’re more likely to develop progressing and permanent hearing loss. That will raise the probability of falling. Consequently, when you get older, falls are more likely to have severe repercussions.
How can hearing aids help decrease falls?
If hearing loss is part of the issue, it makes sense that hearing aids would be part of the remedy. And this is being validated by new research. One recent study discovered that using hearing aids could cut your risk of a fall in half.
In the past, these numbers (and the link between hearing aids and remaining upright) were a little bit less clear. 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 using them.
The method of this study was carried out differently and perhaps more precisely. People who used their hearing aids now and again were separated from individuals who wore them all of the time.
So why does using your hearing aids help you prevent falls? In general, they keep you more vigilant, more concentrated, and less tired. The added situational awareness doesn’t hurt either. In addition, many hearing aids come with safety features designed to activate in the case of a fall. Help will come faster this way.
Regularly wearing your hearing aids is the key here.
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 everybody 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, schedule an appointment with us today.