As the Baby Boomer generation ages into a stage of life where hearing loss is generally accepted as something that just happens, a more detailed look is being taken into the impact of hearing loss. The most common issues, like the difficulties of social and verbal interaction are more widely known than ever before. However, there are more hidden dangers to hearing loss than you might think, that go well beyond asking people to repeat themselves. 

According to studies, research seems to suggest that there is a significant association between difficulty hearing and accidental injuries. These injuries seem to mostly occur when engaging in activities related to work or leisure. For this reason, it’s been recommended for more awareness to be raised around hearing loss, as well as timely hearing screenings and management of hearing loss in order to reduce potential accidents. 

The results

In order to reach these conclusions that hearing loss could significantly raise your risk level of falls and accidents, researchers started with data that came from a nationwide health survey carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This data captured reported histories from 232.2million adults, 15.7% of whom reported hearing loss. Two percent of the population surveyed were injured in an accident within three months of the date of the survey. 

Respondents were asked to rate their hearing from excellent to lot of trouble, and their answers indicated the likelihood of injury. People who had only a little trouble with their hearing were 60% more likely to experience injury, whereas those with moderate trouble hearing were 70% more likely. Those who reported at the highest spectrum of hearing loss were 90% more likely to injure themselves in an accident or a fall. 

How common is hearing loss?

Hearing loss affects a huge portion of the population. Hearing loss is a major health issue, in fact, with more than 48 million people in America reporting some amount of hearing loss. As you age, your likelihood of a hearing loss diagnosis increases. One in three people over 65 has hearing loss, which is often only caused by the normal aging process. 

One fact that is very surprising is that many people who experience hearing loss don’t do anything about it for a long time. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, many wait a decade to intervene. These people are unwittingly putting themselves at a higher risk of a fall or an accident. 

Don’t wait

The best time to intervene if you think you have hearing loss is always as soon as possible. The benefits of prompt intervention go well beyond making conversation easier, although anyone who has hearing loss will tell you the emotional and physical toll that difficulty conversing can take on someone. 

Hearing loss might cause a higher risk of accidents and falls due to the way our ability to listen adds to our awareness of our surroundings. For example, you wouldn’t do something like ride a bike while wearing headphones. By blocking out external noise, you eliminate helpful signals of danger approaching or nearby. 

Other benefits of intervention

As well as the increase in your own safety from falls and accidents, there are also some very important emotional and mental side effects that come from promptly intervening in hearing loss. Those who use hearing aids are less likely than those with hearing loss left untreated experience depression that comes from increased isolation caused by hearing loss. 

If you intervene early, this can also help to retain the healthiest degrees of hearing possible. A lot of what we hear occurs in the brain. This part of the brain gets used to receiving less sound information from your auditory nerve and over time, the ability to receive and process sound information into hearing can be lost. Keeping your auditory system active and engaged is well worth it. 

Get your hearing tested

One of the big recommendations from the study was to make sure you have frequent hearing screenings to monitor hearing health. If you do have concerns about your hearing, schedule an appointment with an audiologist. Once you have a diagnosis for whatever you’re experiencing, you can begin to look into the next steps.

Preventing accidents and falls by intervening in hearing loss is a great way to practice practical and effective preventative care. For more information about caring for your hearing, call Quality Hearing & Audiology Center at 816-233-0022 to make an appointment with our audiologists.