Older adults who are hard of hearing and use hearing aids have a better sense of balance than those who do not use hearing aids. A study at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that older adults with weaker hearing have better balance when they wear hearing aids in both ears.
Hearing and noise can affect the balance.
Check the hearing ability of your patients who are at risk of falling. If it is limited, a hearing aid could help maintain balance. Whether someone can maintain balance while standing and moving depends on their hearing and the background noise, among other factors.
The number of studies on this topic is increasing, but the data is inconclusive. In order to get a clear view in the forest of facts and in particular to check the relevance of hearing impairment and falls in the elderly, U.S. researchers combed through the data and prepared a systematic review of 28 studies with more than 700 participants.
Healthy adults were studied in 64% of the individual studies, along with, to a lesser extent, people with hearing loss (14%) and participants with congenital blindness (7%) or vestibular loss (11%). A single study involved people with Alzheimer’s dementia.
The different settings included auditory stimuli with natural or artificial sounds, some of which were constant or “moving” and sounded through loudspeakers or headphones. The balance exercises performed were done while standing on a solid floor or foam. Partly the subjects had to keep their eyes open, partly closed.
Stability through cocktail parties or running water.
For the healthy subjects, the various studies did not yield a consistent picture. For example, a sound that “moved” from one ear to the other affected the participants’ stability in one study, but not at all in another. The authors suggest that when all senses are available, hearing is less of an issue. Also, sounds can be masked out, so they don’t necessarily produce an effect.
In the groups with impairment, sounds generally promoted balance if they reached both ears equally. In contrast, a sound that “jumped” from one side of the head to the other, e.g., via headphones or loudspeakers, promoted swaying movements – especially in hearing-impaired individuals and patients with vestibular loss.
Most helpful for stability proved to be constant background sounds e.g. of the cocktail party or running water type. The constant and little disturbing background noise stabilized especially during demanding balance exercises and helped especially hearing impaired as well as blind persons to keep an upright posture.
Sending fall patients aged 70 and over for a hearing test.
Sounds act as anchors and allow the hearing person to form a picture of the environment, write the authors led by Professor Anat V. Lubetzky, Ph.D., Steinhardt School of Culture, Department of Physical Therapy, New York University. Especially when another sense is impaired, the researchers speculate. Although the data do not yet provide a clear picture, they already offer a tendency.
For this reason, the researchers call for patients aged 70 and older with a history of falls to also have their hearing checked in practice now. If it is limited, a hearing aid could protect against falls.
Hearing loss does not go away on its own.
Once hearing loss occurs, it usually persists. An exception is an acute disease, so hearing loss may occur and the disease will disappear completely or partially after the acute symptoms have disappeared.
However, in most cases, the symptoms become worse over the years. This is especially true if you do not wear hearing aids. The reason: With hearing aids, the ear is subjected to a constant impulse of sound from the surroundings. Without the impulses, a hearing will decline further. Don’t let it go so far, let us advise you individually.
Wearing hearing aids as early as possible can improve quality of life.
Hearing loss can occur at any age. Congenital hearing loss or hearing loss due to an accident or disease sometimes requires hearing aids at a young age. As we age, natural age-related hearing loss begins, which can be very different. Although about one-third of people over the age of 50 already have hearing loss, many people with hearing loss still do not wear hearing aids.
Often, the reason lies not in their own bad experiences, but in reports from friends, acquaintances, or co-workers. Advances in hearing aid technology have been tremendous. These devices can be controlled digitally and are small enough to be virtually unnoticeable when worn.
Because of their lightweight, they do not compress but sit very comfortably either inside the ear or behind the ear. This allows them to be worn all day. Today’s hearing aids filter out background noise and transmit sound, tone, and noise with excellent quality. The result: you will once again be an active participant in life, and you will quickly notice how much better your quality of life will be if you decide to wear hearing aids.
Enjoy everyday life again.
If you are hard of hearing but have not yet used a hearing aid, you will notice limitations in your daily life for a long time. After wearing a hearing aid, you will experience special moments for the first few hours. You can once again enjoy the little things in life that have been gone for many weeks or months. Communicating with your human being becomes better again, and you no longer need to give your full attention while listening. You will better perceive the beautiful background noise that nature brings.
But hearing aids filter out the disturbing noises so you are not distracted by loud and unpleasant background noises. You will soon see the comfort and ease of use of wearing a hearing aid. The voice quality is also excellent, and you can also use your hearing aid as a headset or headphones if desired. Modern technology allows you to establish a Bluetooth connection with your smartphone. Making phone calls and enjoying beautiful music will be adapted to your hearing impairment and coordinated so that you can hear the same volume in both ears.