Hearing loss and injurious falls have an undeniable correlation between one another. According to multiple studies, even mild hearing loss can triple your likelihood of falling, especially if you’re an older patient. But why exactly is that? The connection between hearing and bodily injury due to a fall may not be immediately obvious.
At Hearing Unlimited, we want our patients to understand how -- and why -- hearing loss can have a devastating impact on their quality of life, including making them more susceptible to falls. Keep reading to learn three reasons why your hearing can put you or your loved one off balance and ultimately lead to a fall:
1. Your Ears are Structured for Balance
The connection between falls and hearing loss fundamentally lies in the fact that your ear is built as a tool for keeping you balanced, particularly your inner ear. This is why certain conditions of the ear like Meniere’s disease cause dizziness, vertigo or an inability to walk straight. Whenever your hearing is compromised, you’ll miss auditory cues that keep you in control of both your posture and balance, which can eventually lead to a fall.
2. Hearing Loss Makes Your Brain Work Harder
Your brain only has so much power to multi-task, and if one sense is compromised, it will automatically work double-time to compensate. This phenomenon is called cognitive overload, and it’s part of why you’re more likely to fall if you even partially lose your sense of hearing. With your brain’s attention focused on making up for a lack of sensory input from your ears, you lose the cognitive resources you need to focus on balance. This is true of any sensory loss, which is why those with dual sensory loss (for example, loss of hearing and vision) are particularly at risk for dangerous, and even deadly falls.
3. Lack of Hearing Means Lack of Awareness
Finally, hearing loss can increase you or your loved one’s risk of taking a fall by reducing your awareness of your surroundings. Your hearing provides your brain with vital acoustic cues that give you a three-dimensional understanding of your environment. When your hearing is compromised, your brain will miss information that can leave you unaware of people, animals, structures and obstacles around you. This also creates the effect of decreasing your spatial awareness, making it more difficult to determine exactly how far you are from objects in your path. Unfortunately, making contact with any of these obstacles can result in a fall.
Injurious or deadly falls are preventable. With this correlation in mind, it’s clear that hearing loss treatment and prevention are essential to any effective prevention plan. In next month’s blog, we’ll detail even more steps you can take to prevent yourself or someone you love from being hurt in a fall.
If your current audiologist has made the difficult decision to close their doors, call Hearing Unlimited. Although we are closed to walk-ins, we are open for normal hours of operation, and we are following strict protocols to keep our environment safe while we continue to serve our patients.
The audiologists at Hearing Unlimited have the expertise to help you maintain your hearing health and prevent injury during this crucial time. Get your healthy hearing plan started today - contact us online or by phone to schedule an appointment, and be sure to take advantage of our services and resources.