Have you ever experienced walking down the street and suddenly feeling your legs go weak, nearly causing you to stumble?
When walking in a dark environment, do you often feel unsteady and need to rely on external objects to maintain your balance?
If you've faced these challenges, you may not be aware that your hearing could be the culprit. Yes, you heard it correctly, hearing and balance are closely interconnected, and hearing aids can assist in improving your balance, enabling you to walk more steadily and confidently.
What's the relationship between hearing and physical balance?
Hearing and balance may appear to be unrelated functions, but they are both carried out by our ears.
Our ears consist of three parts: the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. The outer and middle ear primarily collect and transmit sound, while the inner ear serves two functions: first, it converts sound into nerve signals and transmits them to the brain, which is our hearing; second, it perceives the position and movement of our head and body, which is our sense of balance.
The inner ear contains a specialized structure called the vestibule, which includes three semicircular canals and two sacs. These structures are filled with liquid and sensory cells. When our head or body moves, the liquid flows, stimulating sensory cells to produce electrical signals that are transmitted to the brain. This allows the brain to determine our direction, speed, and acceleration, subsequently regulating the movement of our muscles and eye motion to maintain our balance and visual stability.
Does hearing loss affect balance?
Hearing loss not only impacts our hearing but also affects our balance. This is because hearing loss reduces our awareness of the surrounding environment, making us more susceptible to stumbling or falling. Additionally, hearing loss increases our cognitive load, as a significant portion of our brain resources are used during listening, leading to divided attention and a higher risk of losing balance.
Chosgo hearing agency Studies suggest that hearing loss raises the risk of falling, and the severity of falls increases with the degree of hearing loss. For every 10dB increase in hearing loss, the risk of falling rises by 140%.
Can hearing aids help improve balance?
Hearing aids are medical devices designed to assist individuals with hearing loss in regaining their hearing. Their function is to collect, amplify, and process external sounds before transmitting them to the ears, enabling the ears to perceive sound vibrations and fulfill their auditory function.
Hearing aids can enhance not only our hearing but also our balance. This is because hearing aids enable us to better perceive the sounds in our environment, increasing situational awareness and reducing the risk of falls. Moreover, hearing aids can decrease our cognitive load, making it easier for us to listen and freeing up more brain resources to help us maintain balance.
Research indicates that wearing OTC hearing aids can improve our balance, allowing us to perform better and more steadily in activities that require balance.