It is well evident that the untreated hearing loss can lead to a variety of medical, social and cognitive issues. But did you know that untreated hearing loss can also increase the risk of falling?
How hearing loss is linked to falls
Fall is common among people over 65. A study done by John Hopkins School of Medicine and the National Institute of Aging indicates that the hearing loss significantly increases the risk of falls in older people. The most surprising was that even mild hearing loss can increase the risk of fall by three times. As per the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one out of four older adults falls each year.
Falls especially in elderly causes most frequent and severe injury and this is the leading cause of death in people over the age of 65. This causes millions of annual health care cost. It also creates an emotional burden on the elderly. They fear to fall because of the risk of injury, desire to remain independent. In result, they limit their level of activity because of fear which also causes physical decline and social isolation.
What is the reason
There are a few reasons that hearing loss can affect balance. One of them is people with hearing loss have less awareness of their environment or other things going on around them. Another reason is that their ability to spatial awareness decreases. So they find difficult to position their body in relation to other people and objects around them. Finally, people with hearing loss use more resources for hearing and tries to understand speech and remaining fewer resources are left to use to maintain their balance.
How can we help
A study was done to find out if the hearing aids could help in improving balance. Subjective balance test was done on people with and without hearing aid. The result showed people with the hearing aid were able to maintain balance twice as long as without the hearing aid.
A through audio-vestibular (hearing & balance) assessment should be done on people with hearing and balance/dizziness difficulty. Tests results will indicate if there is a requirement for hearing aid, vestibular rehabilitation or any other treatment. Management will depend on the results of the test. This approach will decrease the risk of falls, will increase longevity and better quality of life.
The Audiology Clinic is a private independent diagnostic audiology practice. The specialists at the audiology clinic provide prevention, assessment and management of people with hearing, tinnitus and balance (vertigo/dizziness) disorders. All patients attending the audiology clinic are seen by Doctor of Audiology Dr Deepak Kumar.
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