Falls and Accidents Are More Likely With Hearing Loss

an older man cupping a hand to his ear

Hearing loss is not just a condition that impacts your ability to hear, but it can affect so many other areas of your life. People with hearing loss face an increased amount of depression and dementia due to cognitive decline, but it can also result in serious risks to your safety. People with hearing loss face a higher likelihood of falling, making it essential you get the treatment you need to stave off any unwanted health impacts.

How does hearing loss impact falling?

There are some reasons why hearing loss is linked to a risk of falling. Losing the fullness of the hearing results in a lack of awareness of their surroundings. We experience ambient noises every day, but we don’t consciously notice them. When individuals experience hearing loss, they cannot consciously or unconsciously notice these sounds, which reduces their overall spatial awareness.

There is also a link between hearing loss and balance. When an individual’s hearing is compromised, the balance is greatly affected due to more energy being devoted by the individual to interpreting sounds and hearing, resulting in a lack of resources to maintain balance. In addition to this, there are issues within the inner ear that controls the side-to-side movement. If there are problems within the inner ear, this disrupts the three canals (known as semicircular canals) that control the movement, which will result in balance problems.

What are the results?

Research conducted by Johns Hopkins University discovered that mild hearing loss can increase the risk of falling by three. With more extensive hearing loss, the risk will increase. Hearing loss can impact an individual’s likelihood of falling because of reduced awareness. The difficulty in hearing potential hazards around an individual can increase the likelihood of an accident. In addition to this, the difficulties posed by a hearing condition put additional strain on the brain. With an increased cognitive load, there are fewer resources utilized by the brain to focus on balance.

In addition, a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered that out of 232.2-million adults, where 15.7% reported hearing problems, 2.8% were injured in an accident within three months of that survey. Individuals reporting a higher level of hearing loss were 90% more likely to injure themselves in a fall or accident. Even those who describe themselves as having a little trouble hearing were 60% more likely to experience an injury. With these results, an individual with mild hearing loss can still be at risk of injuring themselves through a fall or an accident.

How hearing aids help

As individuals fitted with hearing aids can experience a greater quality of life, they will also experience fewer falls and accidents. Because improved hearing prevents the cognitive overload resulting from hearing loss, this enables an individual to distinguish slight and subtle sounds, as well as the direction they are coming from. An individual can hear another person approaching, which will reduce the chance of falling due to a collision. 

In addition to this, a study conducted by Washington University School of Medicine discovered hearing aids resulted in better balance, suggesting that enhanced hearing can enable individuals to use sound as auditory reference points so they can maintain their balance.

Treating hearing loss

It is important to take care of your body through lifestyle choices. As we get older, there is a high likelihood of falls and accidents. You can conduct more self-care. But if you start to worry about your hearing loss, you may feel the inclination to withdraw. However, this will impact your ability to understand how your hearing loss results in your individual engagement with your surroundings. This is why it is so important to treat your hearing loss as soon as possible. 

Consulting an audiologist and getting a hearing test is the perfect starting point to ensure that you fully grasp the hearing loss you are experiencing. While falls and accidents are more likely with hearing loss, if you engage in treating it soon, this means you will be able to experience a fuller range of hearing and a better quality of life. In addition to this, if you are concerned about falls and accidents, getting the right hearing aid will greatly reduce the likelihood of this from occurring because you will be able to better recognize your surroundings. 

If you have any concerns, consulting an audiologist is the first port of call. Here, at GL Wyeno Hearing Specialists PC, we conduct hearing tests and can recommend the best course of action. Call us at (402) 463-2431, and we will be able to help.