Hearing loss affects more than just your hearing but can affect many aspects of your physical and mental health. Not only does it affect everything from your mood to your blood pressure, but studies have linked hearing loss to a greater risk of falls and accidents.
Risks of Untreated Hearing Loss
When people ignore their hearing loss all sorts of negative side effects begin to surface. Perhaps most obviously it becomes more difficult to communicate, causing a strain on your personal and professional relationships. It also becomes much more of a challenge to hear when there are competing sounds, making social situations like dinners and parties suddenly stressful environments to navigate. This can lead to emotional distress as anxiety about not being able to communicate sets in. Very often people with untreated hearing loss fall into depression and are more likely to self-isolate.
Not only is your mental health affected but commonly aspects of your physical health. People who are forced to constantly strain to hear and make sense of conversation with less information are subject to more frequent headaches, muscle tension, insomnia, vertigo, higher blood pressure and ultimately cognitive strain. The stress on the brain as it struggles to fill in the gaps in hearing can lead to mental decline if ignored. To make matters worse, when you cannot hear, people often become at a higher risk for falls and accidents.
The Link Between Hearing Loss & Falls
When people’s hearing begins to diminish often they have less clues to map the world around them. It can become increasingly difficult to decipher the direction a sound is coming from. There are many ambient sound clues we receive daily that we may not even notice but these subtle sounds help us map out our world. It could be the faint sound of another person or one of our pets moving in the house. It could be the subtle sound of bicycle wheels approaching from behind us on a trail. When you can pick up on these subtle sounds you can adjust accordingly. In the instance of an approaching bike, we can move out of the way to avoid collision but when these ambient sounds are lost it becomes harder to anticipate such things. As a person’s hearing declines, they do not necessarily catch these sounds, causing their overall spatial awareness to diminish. Without a vast spatial awareness, there is a higher risk to run into objects and become imbalanced leading to more falls.
Hearing Loss & Balance
Within the inner ear is a structure called the labyrinth that is responsible for keeping us balanced. In conjunction with the vestibular and our vision we receive information to our body’s position in relation to the earth and gravity. As hearing declines balance is also affected as they are both operated properly contingent on functions controlled by the inner ear.
Reasons For Balance and Hearing Disorders
If you are suffering from balance issues it could be many different complications in the inner ear. It is ideal for an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist (ENT) to diagnose the issue in your fragile inner ear. Common causes include ear infections and Ménière’s disease that causes vertigo, hearing loss, tinnitus and a feeling of fullness in the ear. Often certain medications including some antibiotics, cancer fighting drugs and even aspirin can be classified as ototoxic, meaning that they can damage your hearing and your balance. Other conditions affecting both hearing and balance include:
- Blood circulation problems in the inner ear
- Head injury
- Low blood pressure
Reducing the Risk for Falls and Accidents
It is important to make sure that your hearing is being treated so that you have more information to navigate the world and stay safe from falls and accidents. If you are suffering from hearing loss it could be any number of illnesses from ear infections to tumors, which can be cleared up with guidance from a doctor. However, most kinds of hearing loss cannot be reversed but can still be treated. When you use hearing aids consistently you reduce your risk of accidents as you can hear more of the world around you. If you are struggling with hearing loss contact Professional Hearing Services to find out if hearing aids are right for you.