For years researchers have linked hearing loss with increased social isolation, depression, and even dementia. New research is now also indicating that hearing loss is linked to an increased risk of falls, especially in older adults. Falls amount to significant medical and financial costs to thousands of adults, so better understanding the causes of falls, such as links to hearing loss, is crucial to public health efforts.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins and the National Institute of Aging mined previously collected data to determine possible connections between hearing loss and falls. The data, collection in the 2001 to 2004 cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, captured data on over 2,000 participants, including the status of their hearing and whether they had experienced falls within the past year.
The researchers, Frank Lin and Luigi Ferrucci, discovered that persons experiencing even mild hearing loss were nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling. Additionally, as hearing loss increased, so did the risk of falls. Lin and Ferrucci posit that people with hearing difficulties are often less aware of their overall environment, thereby increasing the chances for tripping and falling. Additionally, hearing loss also leads to cognitive overload, putting the brain in overdrive and making people less able to maintain a balanced gait. Persons with hearing loss need to be aware of their increased risk for falls and even better protected to avoid injuries.
Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine