Kids tend to fall on a daily basis. Wiping out on your bicycle? That’s normal. Tripping over your own feet while you’re running outside? Happens every day. Kids are pretty limber so, no big deal. They don’t usually stay down for very long.
The same cannot be said as you get older. The older you get, the more concerning a fall can become. In part, that’s because your bones generally break more easily (and heal slower). Older people may have a more difficult time standing back up after a fall, 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. Hearing aids could be just such a device according to research.
Can falls be caused by hearing loss
In order to understand why hearing aids can help prevent falls, it helps to ask a related question: does hearing loss make a fall more likely in the first place? In some instances, it seems that the answer is a definite yes.
So the question is, why would the risk of falling be increased by hearing loss?
There isn’t exactly an intuitive association. Hearing loss doesn’t really, after all, affect 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 danger of having a fall. Here are some of those symptoms:
- You have less situational awareness: When you have untreated hearing loss, you may not be as able to hear that oncoming vehicle, or the barking dog beside you, or the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps. Your situational awareness might be significantly impacted, in other words. Can hearing loss make you clumsy like this? Well, in a way yes, daily activities can become more dangerous if your situational awareness is compromised. And that means you might be slightly more likely to unintentionally stumble into something, and have a fall.
- Depression: Untreated hearing loss can cause social isolation 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.
- You can’t hear high-frequency sounds: When you go into a stadium, you know how even if you close your eyes, you can detect that you’re in a huge space? Or when you jump into a car and you instantly know you’re in close quarters? Your ears are actually utilizing something like “echolocation” and high-frequency sound to assist your spatial awareness. You will lose the ability to rapidly make those judgment calls when hearing loss causes you to lose those high-frequency tones. Loss of situational awareness and disorientation can be the outcome.
- Exhaustion: Your brain is working extra hard and you’re always straining when you have untreated hearing loss. This means your brain is exhausted more frequently than not. A weary brain is less likely to notice that obstacle in your path, and, as a consequence, you might wind up tripping and falling over something that an alert brain would have seen.
- Loss of balance: How is your balance affected by hearing loss? Well, your general balance depends greatly on your inner ear. So you may find yourself dizzy, experience vertigo, and lose your balance when hearing loss affects the inner ear. Because of this, you could fall down more often.
Part of the link between hearing loss and falling is also in your age. As you age, you’re more likely to develop irreversible and progressive hearing loss. At the same time, you’re more likely to take a tumble. Consequently, when you get older, falls are more likely to have serious repercussions.
How can the risk of falling be reduced by using hearing aids?
If hearing loss is part of the problem, it makes sense that hearing aids would be part of the solution. And this is being confirmed by new research. Your risk of falling could be reduced by as much as 50% based on one study.
In the past, these numbers (and the link between hearing aids and remaining upright) were a little fuzzier. In part, that’s because not everyone uses their hearing aids all of the time. As a result, falls among “hearing aid users” were often inconclusive. This was because individuals weren’t wearing their hearing aids, not because their hearing aids were malfunctioning.
But this new study took a different (and maybe more accurate) approach. People who used their hearing aids now and then were separated from people who wore them all of the time.
So how can you prevent falls by using hearing aids? They keep you less exhausted, more focused, and generally more vigilant. It doesn’t hurt that you have added spatial awareness. Many hearing aids also include a feature that can alert the authorities and family members in case of a fall. This can mean you get help quicker (this is critical for people older than 65).
But the trick here is to make sure you’re wearing your hearing aids frequently and consistently.
Get your fall prevention devices today
You will be able to remain close to your loved ones if you wear hearing aids, not to mention catch up with friends.
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 right away.