Hearing loss is associated with an increased risk of falling, according to a new study.
Johns Hopkins researchers analyzed data from more than taking part in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2004. The participants had their hearing tested and answered questions about whether they had last fall.
The study found that people with hearing loss 25 decibels (classified as mild) is almost three times more likely to have a history of falls than those who do not have hearing loss. Each additional 10 decibels of hearing loss mean 1.4-fold increased risk of falling.
The findings held after researchers accounted for other factors associated with the collapse, such as age, gender, race, heart disease and balance.
Hearing and balance related
People with hearing loss do not have a good general awareness of their environment, making them more likely to trip and fall, said study author Dr. Frank Lin, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
It can also be a hearing, the brain becomes overwhelmed by the demands on limited resources, Lin suggested.
“Go and balance the things that most people take for granted, but is actually very cognitively demanding,” said Lin, an otologist and epidemiology. “If hearing loss is imposed cognitive load, may have few cognitive resources to assist in maintaining balance and walking.”
The study appears in the Archives of Internal Medicine.