You may have heard that hearing loss is associated with anxiety, depression and accelerated cognitive decline, but did you know that it also puts you at greater risk of an accidental injury? One study uncovered this link, which we review below.
About the Study
Researchers at the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of California, Irvine and the Department of Otolaryngology and Laryngology at Harvard Medical School conducted a study to uncover whether hearing difficulty is associated with a risk of accidental injury.
To examine this, they used data from the CDC collected for the National Heath Interview Survey (NHIS) from 2007 to 2015. As part of the survey, participants ranked their hearing abilities according to the following scale:
- A little trouble hearing.
- Moderate trouble hearing.
- A lot of trouble hearing.
Of the total number of participants, 2.8% had reported an accidental injury at some point during the previous three months. The types of injuries were classified as:
- Leisure/sport related
Among those who reported driving-related injuries, there was no statistical difference based on hearing status.
For work-related injuries, the group with good hearing or little trouble hearing was more likely to report an injury than those with excellent hearing or more severe hearing problems. This is likely due to the fact that those with excellent hearing have good environmental awareness while those with poor hearing are less likely to work dangerous jobs than those with milder hearing loss.
When it came to leisure- or sport-related injuries, 0.8% of those with excellent hearing reported an injury compared to 1.4% of those who considered themselves deaf.
Overall, the rate of accidental injury increased from 2.4% for those with excellent hearing to 4.8% for those who reported a lot of trouble hearing.
How to Prevent an Injury
While the purpose of this study was not to uncover why there is a higher association of accidental injury among those with trouble hearing, researchers suggest that “Increased awareness about hearing difficulty and its proper screening and management may assist in decreasing accidental injury.”
This includes the use of hearing aids. In fact, a study from 2019 found that use of hearing aids is associated with delayed diagnoses of injurious falls among older adults with hearing loss.