Do you feel unsteady when using the treadmill at Esporta Fitness, or have you experienced a fall recently? It turns out that if you have hearing loss, you have a greater risk of a fall-related injury. Fortunately, hearing aids have been shown to help prevent falls.
The Link Between Hearing Loss & Falls
One study by Johns Hopkins University in collaboration with the National Institute on Aging sought to uncover whether there is a link between untreated hearing loss and balance problems.
The researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2001 to 2004. For the survey, 2,017 participants ages 40 to 69 had their hearing tested and answered questions about whether they’d experienced a fall in recent history. Their vestibular function was also tested.
The researchers found that people with mild hearing loss – trouble hearing sounds less than 25 dB – had three times the risk of falling compared to those with normal hearing. Also, for every additional 10 dB of hearing loss, the risk increased by 1.4-fold.
There are two major hypotheses for why this may be the case:
- Hearing loss may cause people to have less overall awareness of their surroundings, making them more likely to trip and fall.
- Hearing loss imposes a cognitive load, meaning there are fewer resources available to help maintain balance and gait.
How Hearing Aids Can Help
For the study, researchers administered standard balance tests while participants – all over age 65 – wore their hearing aids turned on and again when turned off.
They found that the participants performed significantly better when their hearing aids were turned on, suggesting that “wearing hearing aids may offer a significant public-health benefit for avoiding falls in this population.”
For more information about the link between hearing loss and falls, or to talk to a hearing aid expert about treatment options, call Arizona Desert ENT Specialists today.