Hearing Loss May Up Fall Risk
If you're among the sizeable number of Boomers with hearing loss who resist wearing hearing aids, you could be putting yourself at risk for falls. A research letter published in the February 27th issue of "The Archives of Internal Medicine" reported that a study using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that hearing loss was associated with a self-reported history of falls in the previous 12 months. According to MedPageToday, for every 10-decibel increase in hearing loss, the odds of having fallen in the previous year were higher, and the association remained significant even after adjustment for "potential confounders."
The study's authors, Frank Lin MD, PhD of Johns Hopkins University and Luigi Ferrucci MD PhD, of the National Institute on Aging, wrote: "Further prospective research is needed to determine whether hearing loss is a modifiable risk factor for falls that may be amenable to hearing rehabilitative strategies that remain underused."
The study could not establish a cause and effect relationship between hearing loss and falling, but the chance that it exists is worth considering since Lin and a colleague recently reported that only 14% of older adults with hearing loss use a hearing aid. Possible reasons for a link between hearing loss and falling include dysfunction of the balance mechanisms in the inner ear and missing sound cues about tripping hazards.