Hearing Aids Can Improve Your Sense of Balance

Hearing Aids Can Improve Your Sense of Balance

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for senior Americans. The aftermath can mean a sense of danger which impacts a seniors’ safety and independence. Falls can lead to an enormous economic as well as personal cost. Seniors who have injured themselves in a fall usually limit their activities and this can lead to a growing feeling of social isolation and depression. Falling is not an inevitable result of aging and it can be addressed and reduced.
Older adults find their balance improves with the use of hearing aids and that’s where Gulf Gate Hearing Aid Center comes in.

More than 48 million Americans have some type of hearing loss, yet many wait between five and seven years to get the matter addressed. A hearing evaluation at Gulf Gate Hearing Aid Center is painless, private and we can discuss your lifestyle and expectations regarding hearing aids. There are so many models with so many functions that we will be sure to find one that fits what you want.

Balance and Hearing

Researchers with the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found older patients with hearing loss had better balance when their hearing was enhanced with hearing aids. The findings support the idea that improved hearing in older people who have hearing difficulties may help reduce their risk of falls. Researchers looked at a small pool so they would be better able to study results. There were 14 people between the ages of 65 and 91 in the study and a standard balance test was used to measure the participants postural balance with hearing aids on and working and without hearing aids.

Improvement was noted and Timothy Hullar, senior author and professor at the Washington University School of Medicine said the improvements were not just because hearing aids helped the enrollees be more alert to sound. “The participants appeared to be using the sound information coming through their hearing aids as auditory reference points or landmarks to help maintain balance,” he explained. Hullar compared the results to when we use our eyes to tell us where we are in space. If the lights are out and we are in the dark, he said, we tend to sway more on our feet than we do when we can see. “This study suggests that opening your ears gives you information about balance,” he added.

Sound and Stability

The study shows that sound itself, as opposed to the balance system in the inner ear, helps us maintain balance. As the participants underwent balance tests with and without their hearing aids switched on, researchers played white noise in the background. One of the tests used had participants standing with their feet together on a thick foam pad wearing a blindfold. In another, participants had to stand on the floor with one foot in front of the other heel-to-toe, also blindfolded. The researchers measured how long the participants could stand in these positions without needing to move their arms or feet to help with their balance.

Hearing Aids Improved Results

Some of the participants could stand and maintain balance on the foam pad for 30 seconds or more, which is considered normal, whether or not their hearing aids were turned on. But the participants who had difficulty keeping their balance did perform better when their hearing aids were turned on. Also, researchers noted the improvement in their balance was greater with the more challenging test.

In the foam pad test, the average duration of stability was 17 seconds with the hearing aids off, but nearly 26 seconds with them on. In the more challenging heel-to-toe test, the participants with their hearing aids turned on could stay steady for 10 seconds and that was double the time for those who didn’t a have their hearing aids on.

In general, because hearing aids improve the quality and amount of sound reaching the eardrum, the brain gets a better idea of the body’s surroundings. People can identify the auditory landmarks around them and that contributes to a better sense of balance. While we are visual creatures, we can only look in one direction at one time. Using our ears, we can hear in all directions and that gives us a better sense of where we are.

Gulf Gate Hearing Aid Center

At Gulf Gate Hearing Aid Center, we are committed to giving our customers a better quality of life through better hearing. It all starts with one call scheduling a hearing exam.