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Senior woman fell down and is sitting on carpet and touching forehead with hand

Kids tend to fall on a daily basis. Wiping out on your bicycle? That’s normal. Stumbling over your own feet when you’re running outside? 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 grow older though, that becomes less and less true. The older you get, the more worrisome a fall can be. In part, that’s because your bones tend to break more easily (and heal more slowly). Older people might have a more difficult time getting up after falling, so they spend more time in pain on the floor. As a result, falls are the number one injury-related cause of death in individuals older than 65.

That’s why tools and devices that can decrease falls are always being sought after by healthcare professionals. New research seems to indicate that we may have discovered one such device: hearing aids.

Can hearing loss cause falls?

If you want to know how hearing aids could potentially prevent a fall, you need to ask this related question: does hearing loss make a fall more likely to begin with? It seems as though the answer may be, yes.

So the question is, why would the danger of falling be increased by hearing loss?

That link isn’t really that intuitive. After all, hearing loss doesn’t directly influence your ability to move or see. But it turns out there are certain symptoms of hearing loss that do have this type of direct effect on your ability to move around, and these symptoms can result in a higher risk of falling. Some of those symptoms include:

  • You’re unable to hear high-frequency sounds: When you go into a stadium, you know how even if your eyes are closed, you can tell you’re in a large space? Or when you get into a car and you immediately know you’re in a small space? That’s because your ears are utilizing high-frequency sounds to help you “echolocate,” more or less. You will lose the ability to rapidly make those assessments when hearing loss causes you to lose those high-pitched tones. Loss of situational awareness and disorientation can be the outcome.
  • 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 affects your inner ear, you might find yourself a bit more likely to get dizzy, experience vertigo, or have trouble keeping your balance. As a result of this, you may fall down more often.
  • Depression: Neglected hearing loss can result in social solitude and depression (not to mention an increased danger of dementia). When you’re socially separated, you may be more likely to spend time at home, where tripping hazards are everywhere, and be less likely to have help nearby.
  • You have less situational awareness: You might not be capable of hearing the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps, the dog barking next door, or an oncoming vehicle when you have neglected hearing loss. Your situational awareness could be substantially impacted, in other words. Can you become clumsy in this way due to hearing loss? Well, kind of, loss of situational awareness can make daily tasks a bit more dangerous. And that means you could be slightly more likely to accidentally stumble into something, and take a tumble.
  • Exhaustion: Your brain is working overtime and you’re always straining when you have untreated hearing loss. Your brain will be constantly exhausted as a result. An attentive brain will identify and steer clear of obstacles, which will lessen the chance of falling.

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. That will increase the chance of falling. And when you’re older, falling can have much more serious repercussions.

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 new research has borne that out. Your risk of falling could be decreased by up to 50% based on one study.

The relationship between remaining on your feet and hearing loss wasn’t always this obvious. That’s partially because individuals frequently fail to use their hearing aids. As a result, falls among “hearing aid users” were frequently inconclusive. This was because individuals weren’t using their hearing aids, not because their hearing aids were malfunctioning.

The approach of this research was carried out differently and perhaps more precisely. People who used their hearing aids now and again were segregated from individuals who wore them all of the time.

So why does using your hearing aids help you avoid falls? In general, they keep you more vigilant, more focused, and less exhausted. The added situational awareness doesn’t hurt either. Many hearing aids also come with a feature that can notify the authorities and family members in case of a fall. This can mean you get help faster (this is critical for people older than 65).

But the key here is to make sure you’re wearing your hearing aids frequently and consistently.

Prevent falls with new hearing aids

You will be able to stay close to your family members if you use hearing aids, not to mention catch up with friends.

They can also help prevent a fall!

If you want to know more about how hearing aids could help you, schedule an appointment with us right away.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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