Falls and Accidents Are More Likely with Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is a common condition, with many adults experiencing this change as they get older, moving into their sixties and seventies. As such, many are paying closer attention to not only the hearing loss itself, but the other changes and risks to health that are often associated with this change, including the potential for more falls and accidents.
Studies have shown that there is a strong link between the experience of hearing loss, accidents and injuries, specifically those caused by falls. As a result, people who have hearing loss may be more likely to become hurt if they don’t take steps to recognize the risks and address them.
The link between hearing loss and accidental injury
There are several factors that can increase the risk of accidents and falls, any many of these risk factors do come with age. However, studies have shown that even a mild degree of hearing loss can triple the risk of an accidental fall. Every 10 decibels of hearing loss represent a further 140% increase in the risk of falling and accidents.
Falls on the elderly are a growing concern as they can be the cause of or play a major role in exacerbating injuries and conditions that can greatly limit our range of motion. As such, for those who might suspect they have hearing loss, getting to a diagnosis and understanding the risks as soon as possible can play a key role in protecting them from future injury.
The widespread reach of hearing loss
While people over 65 typically represent those, who are most likely to have hearing loss, it is a public health issue that affects a huge portion of Americans across all age groups and lifestyle. Over 48 million people in the country report as experiencing some degree of hearing loss. The older the age group, the greater the prevalence, with it affecting over a third of all people over the age of 65.
While hearing loss should be considered a regular part of the aging process, it is important to address the other changes that can come with it, such as the increased risk of accidental injuries and falls.
The benefits of intervening
The single best way to reduce the risk of accidents and falls that can come with hearing loss is to seek medical intervention with the help of an audiologist. The primary method of treatment that an audiologist will recommend is fitting a hearing aid.
Hearing aids can help tremendously since the higher risk of falls and injuries that come as a result of hearing loss can often be due to how we hear the environment. Those with hearing loss have fewer senses with which to maintain their awareness of their surroundings. We can’t hear the signals of changes in the environment around us, which can result in, for example, colliding with someone else moving through the workplace.
The emotional benefits
Since we’re talking about the increased risk of accidents and falls that people with hearing loss experience, that’s the benefit we focus on first, but there are plenty of other reasons to seek intervention with an audiologist.
People who experience untreated hearing loss have been shown to be at a much higher risk of depression, in part caused by the isolation that can come as a result not being able to communicate as effectively with others. Therefore, seeking treatment from an audiologist such as a hearing aid can help further protect your hearing, preventing hearing loss from getting severe over time. As such, usually, the sooner the better is the case with hearing loss intervention.
So, what should you do?
Even if you don’t think that you do have hearing loss, it’s recommended that adults organize regular hearing screenings to set a baseline for their hearing that can be tested again in future and then to see if there are any changes to that hearing. If there are any changes to your hearing, you should arrange for a hearing test even if it’s outside of the schedule you and your audiologist lay out, however.
The sooner that you start to work with your local audiologist, the better you can protect not just your hearing but also your physical health. Get in touch with the team at Peninsula Hearing and learn more about how we can help by calling our Poulsbo office at 360-697-3061 or our Port Townsend office at 360-379-5458.