Hearing loss has been associated with a variety of conditions, including dementia, as detailed in our last issue. Recently, a study from the National Institute on Aging and Johns Hopkins University showed that hearing loss may also be a risk factor for a big problem, especially in the elderly population: falls.
In this recent study, over 2000 patients ages 40-69 were assessed for an association between falls and hearing loss. The investigators found was that individuals with a 25 decibel hearing loss, classified as mild, were nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling. This finding also held true when accounting for other factors that could contribute to falls.
One possible explanation for the link of hearing loss with falls is that people who cannot hear well may not have a good awareness of their surroundings, making tripping and falling more likely. In addition, if a person with hearing loss spends more effort to hear, this extra cognitive load may overwhelm the brain, thus leaving less ability to focus on balance and other important functions.
Clearly, the association between hearing loss and falls is significant. It is of utmost importance that hearing loss is taken seriously as the negative effects can lead to other serious ailments.
Call to schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping you hear better!