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Hearing Loss: is it making it harder for you to walk?

Most people understand that hearing loss can cause problems with communication. Of course, it can be frustrating for both the listener and the speaker when trying to have a conversation, and words get misunderstood or misheard. But what many people don’t know is that there is an additional side-effect of hearing loss beyond just not hearing conversation clearly.

Research has shown that having a hearing loss makes communication difficult, but it also makes other things more challenging too. This is because our ears help pick up subtle cues around us that help us navigate the world. For example, something as simple as walking to the refrigerator to get a midnight snack is harder for someone who has hearing loss. Why? Because ears pick up subtle cues that help with balance. For those with hearing loss, the mental processing needed to walk to the refrigerator simply requires more brainpower due to the lack of soft sound input from the ears, and if you are already a little tired, it could be the recipe for a fall.

It seems likely that this hidden side effect of hearing loss may also be higher in older adults whose muscles aren’t quite as strong as they used to be. This is why hearing aids can be beneficial, not only for better hearing but also for overall better balance.

On average people wait about ten years before getting help for their hearing loss. They may put off the decision to buy hearing needs because they think that hearing aids are too expensive, too difficult to use, or that it will make them look old. The fact is that hearing aids have now become an entirely accepted part of society. 

Just like glasses used to be “uncool,” but now people wear them just for “the look” – the same goes for hearing aids. Many people purposely get ‘Apple white’ or ‘tech black’ hearing aids, or even red or green hearing aids simply for fashion. And with all the new earbuds and Bluetooth devices, it is impossible to know if somebody is wearing a hearing aid or some other type of earbud. Not only that, but hearing aids no longer just amplify sound. They can translate other languages. They can allow you to stream music and phone calls directly into your ears. They can even give you instant access to information through the Internet.

More and more health insurers are helping with the price of hearing aids. But even without the help of insurance, the cost of hearing aids is money well spent for the benefits of hearing better and even walking better!