Plainsboro and Monroe, NJ

Plainsboro and Monroe, NJ

Hearing Aids Can Minimize the Risk of Falling

Princeton Otolaryngology Associates: Dr. Scott L. Kay | Hearing Aid News

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

Kids tend to fall pretty much every day. Wiping out on your bicycle? That’s typical. Tripping over your own feet while you’re running outside? Happens all of the time. It isn’t really a worry because, well, kids are pretty limber. They rebound quite easily.

The same cannot be said as you get older. The older you get, the more concerning a fall can be. One reason for this is that bones break easier and heal slower when you’re older. Older individuals tend to spend more time lying on the floor in pain because they have a harder time getting back up. Falling is the leading injury-associated cause of death as a result.

It’s not surprising, then, that healthcare professionals are always on the lookout for tools and devices that can decrease falls. Hearing aids might be just such a device according to research.

Can hearing loss lead to falls?

In order to figure out why hearing aids can help avert falls, it helps to ask a related question: is it possible that hearing loss can increase your risk of having a fall? In some situations, it seems that the answer is a definite affirmative.

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

That link isn’t really that intuitive. Hearing loss doesn’t really, after all, impact your ability to move or see. But it turns out there are some symptoms of hearing loss that do have this kind of direct effect on your ability to move around, and these symptoms can result in an increased risk of falling. Here are some of those symptoms:

  • You’re unable to hear high-frequency sounds: When you go into an arena, you know how even if you close your eyes, you can tell you’re in a large space? Or how you can immediately tell that you’re in a small space when you get into a car. That’s because your ears are utilizing high-frequency sounds to help you “echolocate,” basically. 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 consequences.
  • Your situational awareness is impaired: When you have neglected hearing loss, you may not be as able to hear that approaching vehicle, or the dog barking next to you, or the sound of your neighbor’s footsteps. Your situational awareness could be significantly affected, in other words. Can you become clumsy like this because of hearing loss? Well, kind of, loss of situational awareness can make day-to-day tasks a little more hazardous. And that means you could be slightly more likely to accidentally bump into something, and have a tumble.
  • Loss of balance: How does hearing loss impact your balance? Well, your general balance depends heavily on your inner ear. So you may find yourself dizzy, experience vertigo, and lose your balance when hearing loss impacts the inner ear. As a result of this, you may fall down more frequently.
  • Depression: Untreated hearing loss can result in social solitude and depression (along with an increased danger of dementia). You are likely to stay home a lot more when you’re socially separated, and tripping dangers will be all around without anyone to help you.
  • Exhaustion: When you have untreated hearing loss, your ears are always straining, and your brain is often working overtime. Your brain will be constantly exhausted as a result. An attentive brain will notice and avoid obstacles, which will decrease the chance of having a fall.

Part of the link between hearing loss and falling is also in your age. As you age, you’re more likely to experience permanent and advancing hearing loss. That will raise the likelihood of falling. As a result, when you get older, falls are more likely to have serious repercussions.

How can hearing aids help minimize falls?

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 danger of falling could be lowered by as much as 50% according to one study.

The connection between remaining on your feet and hearing loss wasn’t always this clear. That’s to some extent because people frequently fail to wear their hearing aids. So it was inconclusive how often hearing aid users were having a fall. This was because people weren’t using their hearing aids, not because their hearing aids were broken.

But this new study took a different (and perhaps more accurate) approach. People who used their hearing aids now and again were separated from people who wore them all of the time.

So why does using your hearing aids help you prevent falls? Generally speaking, they keep you more vigilant, more focused, and less fatigued. The added situational awareness doesn’t hurt either. Many hearing aids also include a feature that can notify the authorities and family members if a fall happens. This can mean you get assistance faster (this is critical for people older than 65).

But the trick here is to make sure you’re using your hearing aids often and regularly.

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 everyone who’s significant in your life.

They can also help you remain on your feet, literally!

Schedule an appointment with us right away if you want to learn more about how your quality of life can be improved.

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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