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Perhaps you’ve heard of the many health benefits of investing in a set of hearing aids including the mental, emotional, economical and physical benefits of hearing better. Hearing aids can make sure that you are tuned into your environment and are aware of your surroundings. Even when people know the benefits of hearing aids, they often tend to wait seven years from the time they first notice changes in their hearing to get their hearing tested. Leaving hearing loss untreated has been linked to an increased risk for dementia, depression, anxiety, and falls, accidents, and hospitalization.
Your Senses and Balance
If you’ve ever turned out a light and tried to move in the dark, you know that losing a sense can severely impact your ability to maintain balance. Without the ability to see, you’re forced to rely on your other senses to stay standing upright. Evidence has shown that the same concept applies to hearing. While falls and accidents are considerably higher in people with hearing issues this can be explained by the interconnected nature of our hearing and balance systems. Your balance system helps you stand, walk, run, and move without falling. Your eyes, inner ear, and muscles and joints send signals to your brain. These signals help you stay balanced. This system of signals is your vestibular system. Because our auditory processes and balance systems are located in the same area of our brains making the connection between balance and better hearing is a no brainer.
Hearing Loss and Hospitalization
A recent study done by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the National Institute of Aging found that hearing loss significantly increases the risk of falls for the aging demographic. The news could have far reaching implications when it comes to preventing falls and helping our older generations to continue live independent lives.
Researchers speculate that there could be a few reasons that hearing loss is associated with an increased risk of falls. One reason could be that with hearing loss have less environmental awareness to people, pets or other things going on around them. Spatial awareness, could be another reason for increased falls. Many researchers point to cognitive overload as a hindrance to balance; simply put, this means that those with hearing loss are using more of their mental resources to hear and interpret speech and other sounds. Since mental resources are not infinite, those with hearing loss have fewer mental resources left over to dedicate to maintaining balance.
Hearing Aids and Better Balance
A study by the Washington University School of Medicine determined that our ability to hear contributes greatly to our ability to maintain our center of balance. The study included 14 elderly participants with hearing loss. Tests were used to gauge whether their hearing contributed to their sense of balance, and the participants did better with hearing aids than without. With hearing aids, patients were able to balance on a foam pad for 10 seconds longer than with out. Without hearing aids, many of these participants were unable to balance while standing for longer than 20 seconds. Once their hearing was improved, they were able to stay upright longer.
It is much harder to maintain balance while walking, running, and doing physical activity. If hearing aids are able to improve a sense of balance while standing still, then evidence implies it will improve balance while in motion as well. This lowers the risk of falls that could seriously injure them.
Hearing Aid Associates
Because hearing aids improve the quality and amount of sound reaching the eardrum, it gives the brain a better idea of one’s surroundings. People are able to identify auditory signals around them, which contributes to their sense of balance. While we rely on visual cues to keep us oriented, we rely heavily on the sounds around us to give us a relative idea of our surroundings. We can only look one way at a time, but our ears can always hear in all directions. The improved hearing you benefit from when you invest in a pair of hearing aids can also help your balance. Contact us at Hearing Aid Associates to see if hearing aids can help keep your life in balance.