If you have a loved one with hearing loss, you may have noticed that they sometimes have trouble balancing. Maybe you’ve felt unsteady on your feet from time to time. Are you worried that you might fall and injure yourself? Does this keep you at home, or make you afraid to leave the house? This could be a sign of hearing loss. For anyone with hearing loss, balancing can become a problem, and those struggling to hear have a higher risk of falling.
Increased Risk of Falling
If you’ve been struggling to hear, your hearing loss is affecting far more than your relationships and your ability to follow conversations in places with a lot of background noise. Hearing loss can actually increase your risk of falling, and a recent study found that those with hearing loss are three times as likely to struggle with balance, or maintain a smooth walking pace. Among adults aged 40 to 69, even those with mild hearing loss tripped three times more often than those with clear hearing, and as hearing loss worsened, the risks of falling increased.
“People with impaired hearing have poor awareness of their overall environment,” explains Dr. Frank Lin, an Otologist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, “and that makes them more likely to trip and fall.” Not only that, but when you have hearing loss, the brain is so busy trying to make sense of the auditory information coming into your ears that it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the processing demands. There’s less cognitive awareness available for balancing and walking, and that increases the risk of falling.
Hearing Aids Improve Balance Issues
To investigate how hearing aids can help with balance, a study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis looked at how hearing devices affected balance in seniors. They had seniors over the age of 65 perform some balance tests to see how well they were able to balance. For example, they stood on a foam pad, or had to stand with one foot in front of the other. Both tests were performed with their eyes closed, and the seniors had to rely on their internal balance and hearing instead of using visual cues from the environment. They did these balance tests first with their hearing aids turned off, then with their hearing aids turned on.
The results were definitive. Seniors with hearing aids were able to keep their balance much easier, and for far longer when their hearing devices were turned on. For those who really struggled with their balance, turning on their hearing aids significantly improved their ability to balance. For some, the amount of time they were able to balance doubled!
Hearing Aids Improve Quality of Life
Not only do hearing aids improve balance, reduce the risk of trips, slips and falls, and lower the rates of accidents and hospitalizations, hearing aids also drastically improve quality of life. Hearing aid wearers enjoy better overall health and well-being, and have fewer health concerns. Wearing hearing aids improves your cognitive function, and keeps your brain active and healthy. Probably the most striking benefit to wearing hearing aids is the improved social life. Those with hearing aids are easily able to follow conversations, enjoy social functions, and take part in all their favorite events. They don’t risk social isolation, and enjoy great relationships with their friends and loved ones. They have higher self-confidence, great communication, and higher overall quality of life. Consistent hearing aid use also reduces the chances of suffering from anxiety, depression, and even dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Fidelity Hearing Centers
If you’ve been struggling to hear, or have noticed problems with balance, then call us today at Fidelity Hearing Centers to book a hearing test. We’ll work with you to determine your unique hearing profile, and discover what sounds you’re missing. Whether you have an active lifestyle, or struggle the most to hear at work, we have the device to help you hear clearly, get back to doing the activities you love, and bring your closer to your family and friends. Not only that, but hearing aids will improve your balance, and you won’t need to worry about falling or getting hurt when your hearing aids are in place.