Cognitive changes are a normal process of aging, which is well documented in many scientific studies. Hearing loss and cognitive abilities are part of these changes that decline as you progress in your age. Unfortunately, untreated hearing loss is fairly common, but this dangerous occurrence can lead to a multitude of health and personal safety issues.
You may not realize it, but your untreated hearing issues can result in an increased risk of falling, which is supported by the results of a recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the National Institute of Aging. Balance issues and untreated hearing loss have a strong correlation, which is the reason why there is an increased likelihood of falling. The risk of falling cannot be undermined because it has detrimental consequences.
Facts on Falling
The data revealed in many studies have far reaching implications for you and the many others out there who suffer from loss of hearing. In fact, it can motivate you and the rest to seek treatment to help improve cognitive abilities and potentially prevent falls. This is critical especially for the older generation, so they can continue to live independent and robust lives. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one out of four older adults fall each year. That is a staggering number that must be mitigated.
hese falls have resulted in numerous emergency room visits because they can result in broken bone, traumatic brain injuries, and worst-case scenario, death. In fact, these falls can lead to about more than $50 billion each year in medical costs.
That is not a surprising figure because broken bones are hard to heal, especially in the older generation. Sometimes, putting fractures in a cast to immobilize the injury is not enough. It will even require hospitalization and/or very painful surgery, like total hip replacement. Recovery from these procedures are painful.
Don’t ever disregard any of your hearing problems because studies have indicated that even a mild degree of hearing loss triples the risk of an accidental fall. Moreover, this risk continues to increase by as much as one hundred forty percent for each additional 10 decibels of loss in hearing.
Why Loss of Hearing is Associated with Falls
Many researchers have investigated the possible reasons that loss of hearing is strongly linked with an increased risk of falling and stumbling. There are a few reasons which explain why loss of hearing has a strong connection to an increased risk of falling. The loss of hearing makes you become less aware of your environment. There is also a decrease in your spatial awareness, which means it becomes trickier for you to estimate where your body is in relation to other objects. The brain is also unable to function well because it ends up overcompensating for the loss sense of hearing, so there is less brain function allocated for your gait and balance. With all these factors in to play, loss of hearing indeed has the capacity of decreasing balance and increasing your likelihood of falling down.
- If you suffer from a hearing a problem, you are less aware of your environment. Your limited access to auditory cues means there is a decrease in your environmental awareness. The decrease in your sense of hearing means you can be unaware of pets and other things going on in your surroundings. You will not be able to hear footsteps, which means you are less likely to sense where you are positioned in relation to surrounding objects or people. Because of this, there is an increase in the likelihood of tripping and falling.
- The part of the inner ear called the vestibular system shares a location with part of the inner ear that is responsible for hearing. This is the cochlea, which is referred to as the true organ of hearing. The vestibular system is responsible for your spatial orientation, equilibrium, and motion. When there is a dysfunction between your vestibular system and cochlea, there will be an increased risk of falling.
- There is a strong association with balance issues and hearing loss. When there is loss of hearing, the cognitive load of the brain goes on overdrive. This means that your brain is just handling too many tasks all at once. When there is cognitive overload, people are predisposed to falling. And it is a known fact that people who have problems hearing use more of their cognitive load and mental resources to hear and interpret speech and other sounds. Doing so means that more brain power is used for the task, which shifts focus leaving lesser resources for keeping balance maintained. Thus, it is not surprising why balance disorders are strongly associated with hearing issues.
These alarming results ought to make you or anyone else suffering hearing loss and cognitive abilities in a decline schedule a hearing evaluation. Your untreated hearing loss has been proven to be a major factor in more health care expenses, which are all costly. Furthermore, disregarding your hearing issues are linked to dementia and many other health issues such as depression, anxiety, injuries, and cardiovascular problems.
The thought of falling and suffering from balance disorders will create a heavy emotional burden for you. You become anxious about falling flat on your face while in public because balance issues and hearing loss are strongly intertwined. To make things worse, brittle bones could mean these falls have a deadlier impact.
In general, older people fear falling because apart from suffering injuries, it can cause a lot of embarrassment. Many still prefer to live independent lives. They don’t want to be a burden to anyone. To mitigate those falls due to their hearing problem, some have opted to limit outside activities and interaction due to their fear. Sadly, this results in a further physical decline and it triggers depression due to social isolation.
Why Should You Seek Professional Help ASAP
It is quite ironic that majority of people know that they are suffering from hearing issues but they do not bother to check it out. Research shows that there is as much as 1 in 10 Americans who know their hearing isn’t as great as it use anymore, but more than half of these people have never bothered to get their ears checked.
It is critical to get help the moment you feel there is a problem. If you wait things out and ignore them, the damage can escalate. The worst-case scenario is your loss of hearing may be temporary, and could have been cured, but due to your inattention and denial to address the issue, the hearing problem progresses to become a permanent one.
To illustrate, you suffer a severe ear infection. Your ears have tiny hairs that pass the sound waves into your brain. Remember, once these minute hair strands in your ear are damaged, you will never be able to grow them back. Because you delay going to the doctor, you end up injuring the area and losing your sense of hearing.
Unfortunately, many people who get fitted for hearing aids are not vigilant about using them because of various reasons like it looks bulky, it feels uncomfortable, it makes you look old, and the like. However, hearing aids have become more sophisticated and technologically advanced than ever before.
Roseville Diagnostic Hearing Center
If you’ve never had your hearing checked or you think it might be impacting your balance, it is critical to visit us at Roseville Diagnostic Hearing Center to test your hearing and establish your baseline as soon as possible. Seeking treatment and wearing hearing aids will improve the quality of your life.