An increasing number of the literature suggests that hearing loss contributes to falls and accidents. For the reader, it may be a little surprising as to how both are connected.
To give a brief explanation, the sensory system of hearing and balance are closely located to each other. So, any factor that affects the sensory system of hearing has its influence on the balance system as well. Studies done on adults between the ages of 40 and 70 show that even hearing loss of a milder degree triples the chance of falling.
In addition to the close association of both systems, other factors result in an increased risk of falling as well. They are being described below:
More cognitive demand for hearing
When the hearing system weakens, there is more cognitive demand to focus and pay attention to the sounds which are being heard to communicate better. However, maintaining balance also requires great cognitive demand. So, when the focus given is more on hearing, the resource allocated for the balance system becomes less, which results in falls and accidents.
Ageing of both hearing and balance system
Age-related hearing loss tends to affect the system within the inner ear which affects balance perception as well. Usually, as the hearing loss progresses, it simultaneously shows the difficulty in maintaining balance.
Lack of sound cues to maintain balance
Hearing adequately helps us understand our environment better. This is because we can identify our position and maintain our posture using sounds in the environment as a cue. However, this is disrupted with the hearing loss, and it becomes difficult to maintain balance.
Hearing loss affects mood
People with hearing loss often end up with psychological issues such as depression and anxiety. Such problems are linked to more falls and accidents and these incidents tend to make the psychological problem worse, making it a classical loop system.
Doing some exercises, keeping the body always on the move, and practising balance exercises can help keep the balance system strong and thus prevent falls and accidents. In case you are prone to such balance problems, it is better to consult an Audiologist for a detailed vestibular evaluation.