There are many ways your daily lives can be affected when struggling with hearing loss. Depression, isolation, and just simple difficulty hearing can significantly change the lives of those who are hard of hearing. But according to data compiled by the National Health Interview Survey, respondents who reported they had trouble hearing were twice as likely to have an accidental injury during work or recreational activities when compared to those with healthy hearing, adding yet another dimension to the struggles those face in their daily lives. Accidental injuries are not only worrying but can be considered dangerous to the lives of those in the hard of hearing community.
Though the National Health Interview Survey did not delve into exactly why hearing loss had contributed to an increase of accidental injury, many experts have their theories. Hearing loss has been directly linked to balancing issues by a 2012 study conducted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, finding that people with at least 25 dB hearing loss were three times more likely to report a fall, with each 10 dB increase in hearing loss raising the chance of falling by 1.4 times. The exact reason for this uptick is unknown, but many believe that hearing loss makes patients more unaware of their surroundings, decreases spatial awareness, and reallocates resources in the brain to focus on listening rather than balancing.
This research can truly save lives, as the National Health Report conducted by the CDC has found that accidental injuries are one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in the United States. One in every four adults aged 65+ will fall each year, while an older adult will be treated in the emergency room for a fall every 11 seconds. This not only puts people at risk of injury but also places a heavy emotional burden on older patients. Some will choose to not participate in social activities, become less independent, and socially isolate themselves.
If you find that you are having trouble balancing or falling often, seeking out a hearing evaluation may help. Within the elderly community, hearing loss is common, but often untreated and can lead to severe balance issues. If you are struggling with hearing loss and are at risk for accidental injuries, treating your impaired hearing or using technology may be able to help. For various balance disorders, VR programs have proved helpful in some doctor’s offices, with new programs being developed for therapy and treatment as the technology advances. Hearing aids have evolved, looking more like supercomputers than the bulky beige devices of the past. Using a hearing device may not only make it simpler for you to listen, but may also make the process more efficient for your brain, freeing up precious resources and reducing fatigue. With all of these treatment options available, it’s time to seek out the advice of a hearing health professional. You will be able to improve your hearing health for the long term and stay on your feet longer.