When someone takes a tumble down the stairs or a spill off their bike, we don’t necessarily get too concerned beyond the normal, “Holy cow, are you ok?”. Medical personnel who see patients either at the scene or at a hospital are trained to ask a question and determine if there are any unusual circumstances such as someone in their life who may be harming them, or if they felt they were targeted.
They are also trained to look for underlying issues such as dizziness or a fainting spell that might have contributed to the accident. One thing that is often not considered is whether or not the person has any hearing loss. Young or old, hearing loss affects people around the world, and for many, it’s surprising what kind of things it impacts.
According to a study by Johns Hopkins Medicine that was completed in 2012, untreated hearing loss has been linked to a greater risk of falling. Thanks to information collected from multiple national health surveys, it was determined that individuals with even a mild loss of hearing were almost three times more likely to suffer from repeat falls.
Injuries, in general, are at higher risk levels for this demographic group, not just falls. Leisure time activities are ranked as the top category for injuries involving people with hearing loss. At a time when you’re enjoying yourself, you’re not necessarily paying attention to what’s going on around you.
A fly away ball at a baseball game or even one from the yard next door can do a lot of damage if you don’t hear the warnings in time to move. When riding a bike, it’s easy to miss the honking of a car horn or the shout of a passerby to alert you to potential danger. Even a bee buzzing nearby can be cause for someone to startle and potentially slip or take a tumble if they couldn’t hear it approach.
Studies show that outdoor activities are more likely to end in injury than indoor pastimes. Because there is usually more sound outside such as the birds chirping, cars on the roadway, even the wind howling, our brains work harder to comprehend all these sounds. The more there are, the harder it works.
Due to this fact, the brain compensates for the decrease in sounds and other senses become less active. Fatigue can be a major factor in this case as well. For someone who has been actively listening for a long stretch of time, the brain can begin to suffer from listening fatigue. This makes reaction times slower and raises the risk of injury.
The inability to hear the honking of a horn, while likely would be more noticeable to someone fresh and alert, but someone suffering from listening fatigue may be dealing with a headache, sensory overload, maybe a bit of brain fog. It’s more likely they’re stumbling along just searching for their destination and are more likely to stumble right into the path of the vehicle.
After a long day at work, maybe on your way to a late meeting, you need to use the GPS to direct you to your destination. You might be struggling to hear the directions, have a little trouble making sense of the disembodied voice. While paying attention to that, you could be putting yourself in danger of missing a stop sign, an emergency vehicle, or even a small child running into the road. All because your senses are all exhausted, simply from trying all day to hear what’s going on around you.
You aren’t just putting yourself at risk at this point, but anyone riding in the vehicle with you, anyone on the route you take. There’s even the possibility of having your driver’s license taken away because you didn’t follow the rules when approached by an emergency vehicle. This could lead to huge ramifications such as having to find a ride for appointments, the grocery store, and to work, or worse, even losing your job.
For those who are often home alone, there’s no guarantee that your safe from injuries, even in your own home. You may rush to answer the door when you finally hear someone knocking, which opens up the opportunity to trip or slip. The smoke alarm going off is a big concern for many when they finally realize they do indeed have trouble hearing.
Obviously the worse the hearing loss, the more opportunity for injury or putting oneself in harm’s way. By having a yearly checkup and taking notice of how those around you are acting, you can catch it before it becomes a serious problem or even causes an accident.
Does your spouse keep telling you to turn the television down? Maybe you have to ask those around you to repeat themselves, or constantly think your companion is mumbling. Is it difficult to hear your dinner date speaking at a crowded restaurant? Are phone conversations difficult because you can’t quite make out what the other person is saying?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it might be time to make an appointment with your hearing health professional. With a few simple tests, they can help determine any hearing loss and make recommendations for solutions. Investing just a small effort could have big rewards, in both your quality of hearing and keeping your body healthy and safe from injury.