Falls are a major concern for the aging population. In fact, more than 1 in 3 people age 65 or older falls every year according to the National Institute for Aging. For younger people, a fall can result in a bruise or a broken bone.
For the older population, however, slower healing times, more fragile bones, and other health concerns mean that a fall can result in a trip to the hospital or even a serious injury requiring intensive care.
An often underestimated but major risk factor for falls as you age is hearing loss. Another fact? It doesn’t take very drastic changes to your hearing to impact your balance and coordination as you engage in daily activities. Read on to learn more on why hearing loss increases your risk for falls.
What is Hearing Loss?
According to the American Hearing Research Foundation, 1 in 10 Americans has hearing loss that affects their ability to understand normal speech, and the National Institute on Aging estimates that 1 in 3 people have hearing loss between the age of 65 and 74. That number raises to 50% for those older than 75. There are different types of hearing loss stemming from a variety of causes. The various types of hearing loss affects different parts of the ear structure, so it’s important to learn signs of change in your hearing acuity.
How Does Hearing Affect Balance?
The health of your auditory system and your ability to maintain your balance are closely tied together. Your vestibular system, which is the part of your sensory system that governs balance and your sense of orientation in space, relies in part on auditory processing to coordinate your movements. Inner ear or cochlear defects or deficiencies (which is often the cause of hearing loss in the older population) can lead to improper or inefficient processing through your vestibular system. This can result in poor balance and coordination, which can lead to falls.
Treatment for Hearing Loss
Proper treatment for hearing loss begins with a thorough hearing test. A hearing evaluation is comprised of several different tests, and anyone who is concerned about their hearing health should contact an audiologist to have their hearing assessed. At Audiology Island, our highly-qualified doctors of Audiology, Dr. Stella Fulman and Dr. Zhanneta Shapiro, know how to properly assess and diagnose a variety of issues related to hearing loss. During an evaluation, your hearing doctor will ask questions about your general health and lifestyle, and perform multiple visual and audio assessments to test the functionality of structures in your ear and your hearing acuity.
Regaining Balance After Hearing Loss
Depending on the results of your tests, your hearing doctor will determine if lifestyle changes can positively impact your loss of hearing or if hearing aids would be the best option for your particular needs. If you find yourself needing a hearing aid, make sure to keep all your fitting appointments with your provider to ensure the aids fit properly and comfortably. At Audiology Island, our providers offer the most advanced hearing aids for adults and children. With correct use, hearing aids will increase your hearing ability so you can more efficiently use your vestibular system, helping you feel more balanced and coordinated.
Hearing loss and falls are two very real concerns the aging population faces. If you’re concerned about your hearing, call to request an appointment today with Dr. Stella Fulman or Dr. Zhanneta Shapiro at Audiology Island. At Audiology Island, we are committed to preserving the hearing health of people of all ages through evaluation, rehabilitation, and treatment. Protect your physical and hearing health by getting your hearing properly assessed and making changes to your environment to prevent falls.
Image Source: Dmytro Zinkevych (c)
About Dr Zhanneta Shapiro
Dr Zhanneta Shapiro received her Masters of Science from Brooklyn College in 2005 and completed her Doctorate of Audiology from Florida University in May 2008. Her graduate training was in various hospitals in the tri-state area and a residency period completed at Ear Nose and Throat Associates of New York. [ Learn More ]