Hearing health is a crucial part of an individual’s overall health. One of the many ways that a person's hearing health affects their overall health is balance. Hearing loss makes the brain rely on more resources to detect and understand speech and sound, which means fewer resources are available to monitor balance. This particular concept demonstrates that hearing loss and falls are strongly interlinked. According to a study by the National Library of Medicine, those aged 40 to 69 with minor hearing loss were three times as likely to have fallen in the years following their first symptoms.
Many individuals remain untreated for hearing loss, which subsequently causes an increased risk of falls. Undiagnosed hearing loss can also decrease general awareness, which raises the possibility of tripping and falling. Hearing loss, whether minor or severe, can also affect our vestibular system, which is an inner ear component vital for balance.
Several factors cause loss of hearing, ultimately leading to increased risk of falling:
You might not have as much mental energy to devote to balance if you work harder to understand and decipher sounds. Most people consider balancing and walking to be simple tasks, yet these two skills require significant cognitive effort.
Age-related hearing loss may be linked to vestibular function, which takes place in a network of receptors in the inner ear. There is evidence that vestibular function may start to decline around the age of forty. Additionally, exposure to excessive low-frequency sounds may also lead to hearing loss and balance issues in the elderly.
People are less aware of their surroundings when stressed, anxious, or depressed. Hearing loss or impairment can lead to extended episodes of anxiety and depression, further elevating the risk of falls.
The following measures can be effective in preventing falls caused by hearing loss:
Hearing aids can improve your balance and help prevent falls. Wearing hearing aids that are programmed and personalized to match your unique hearing needs can help you become more aware of all the sounds around you. Hearing aids also create the benefit of lessening your cognitive load. When you wear hearing aids, you experience a clear auditory picture of your environment, so you won’t expend so much energy to hear. This reduces cognitive overload and reduces the risk of a fall.
The audiologists at Hoffmann Audiology have the professional expertise to assist you in maintaining your hearing health and so reducing your fall risk. From hearing aid evaluation to overall hearing protection, we provide our patients with the finest care possible. Book a consultation with us to ease your hearing struggles today!
Content Source: NIH
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