A study conducted by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that enhancing hearing improved the balance of older adults with hearing loss. In the study, subjects who wore hearing aids performed better on balance tests when their hearing aids were turned on vs. when they were off.
The study’s author attributed the results to more than just improved alertness. Professor of otolaryngology, Timothy Hullar, MD, posited that, just as we use our sight to tell where we are in space (and sway more when it’s dark or our eyes are closed), we use sound as “auditory reference points or landmarks to help maintain balance.” When that is compromised, balance can suffer.
Coming shortly after a Johns Hopkins School of Medicine study linking hearing loss to a three-fold risk of falling, the results suggest that treating hearing loss with hearing aids can help reduce the risk of falls in older people.