Hearing Loss and the Risk of Falling

Hearing Loss and the Risk of Falling

Falling is a devastating condition in older individuals. One slip on the ice or tumble in a slippery bathtub can lead to an extended hospital stay, or worse yet, long term residency in an assistive living center.  One known risk factor associated with the risk of falling is hearing loss. That is, a hearing loss is a red flag for a risk for falling. 

Fortunately, hearing loss is a potentially modifiable risk factor and identification of a hearing problem may provide a substantial public health benefit to older adults. A November 2016 evidence-based review of the pertinent literature indicated that the odds of falling were almost 2.5 times greater among older adults with hearing loss than older adults with normal hearing (pooled odds ratio 2.39, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.11-2.68). 

The results of this peer reviewed article suggest that older adults, who are at-risk for falling should have their hearing screened. Those individuals with burdensome hearing would benefit from correction from their hearing care professional who is well versed on a variety of amplification and other treatment options. 

Reference: Laryngoscope, 126:2587-2596, 2016.

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