Study ties hearing loss, falls

By • Published: June 18th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

If you find yourself often straining to hear what others have to say, better watch where you’re walking.

Information recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that adults with poor hearing are more likely than those with normal hearing to fall. In fact, people with a hearing loss greater than 25 decibels … considered mild hearing loss … were almost three times as likely to report falling in the previous year.

This association isn’t limited to seniors. The study that provided these results included about 2,000 subjects ages 40 to 69.

There are several possible ways that hearing decline could be linked to an increased risk of falling. In some situations, poor hearing may mean people aren’t aware of environmental factors that could lead to a fall. Other times, hearing loss is a symptom of the real culprit behind falls — overall cognitive decline.

Another possibility is that the ears are to blame. Their network of tiny, sensitive parts affects both hearing and balance, so a problem in this part of the anatomy might cause hearing decline and more tumbles on the sidewalk.

Noise exposure is one of the most prevalent causes of hearing loss in adults. Prevent loud sounds from degrading your hearing by limiting your exposure to them. If you work in an extra noisy environment, invest in a good set of protective ear covers to block some of the din.

Some medications are a danger, too. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, more than 200 medications are known to damage cells in the ear, causing hearing and balance problems. Some of these drugs, which include prescription and non-prescription medicines, are necessary to treat life-threatening conditions. Others are less important. To be safe, ask your pharmacist when starting a new medication if it may cause ear damage.

Your hearing and your hips will thank you.