Do you often find yourself bumping into things or falling? It could be related to hearing loss. Studies have shown that hearing loss affects your balance and increases your risk of falls. Fortunately, using hearing aids may help improve your stability. Learn more about the role of hearing aids in improving balance.
Hearing Aids and Balance
“Our ear is an important organ in our body—not only does it process the sound we hear through the cochlea (inner ear), but it also houses our vestibular system, which is responsible for helping our bodies maintain its balance,” Rhee Nesson, AuD, founder of Hearing Doctors of New Jersey, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
“When any part of our ear is compromised, for example, due to hearing loss, it can lead to balance disorders,” Nesson adds.
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, even a mild degree of hearing loss can increase your risk of an accidental fall by nearly three times. And this risk may rise by 140% with every additional 10 decibels of hearing loss.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association also notes that there are three theories that may explain why hearing loss affects balance:
- Hearing loss reduces your awareness of the environment around you. Therefore, you may not notice other people, things, or activities near you.
- Hearing loss reduces spatial awareness, so you may find it difficult to assess how far your body is in relation to objects around you.
- When you have hearing loss, your brain tries hard to listen and interpret speech and utilizes more resources, so fewer resources are left in the brain for maintaining balance and stability.
Fortunately, treatment in the form of hearing aids may improve your balance, according to a recent investigation by American researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. In 2015, they published a study in The Laryngoscope that evaluated the balance of 14 people with hearing loss who were aged 65 to 91.
Researchers found that patients scored higher on standard balance tests when their hearing aids were worn in both ears and turned on, versus when the hearing aids were turned off. This was the first study to establish that sound information, independent of the balance system contained in the inner ear, contributes to the body's maintenance of balance.
“Hearing is one of the senses our body uses to optimize our balance,” Sarah Lundstrom, AuD, an audiologist at HearCare Audiology Center in Venice, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “Hearing provides good information on the location and distance of sounds, which help us assess our position and movement.”
“Wearing hearing aids helps with not only reconnecting with your family and loved one's by hearing better, but it can also improve your balance. By treating your hearing loss now, you can improve your overall quality of life and minimize your risk of falling,” Nesson says.
Hearing Loss Can Be Managed And Treated.
The earlier you address the symptoms of hearing loss, the more likely you are to avoid irreversible damage. Get the answers you need to start treatment today.