If you’ve been feeling out of balance or have even taken tumble lately, it may be time to get your ears checked — but not for the reasons you might think.
That’s because while your inner ears do play a big role in your balance and should be on your doctor’s checklist if you’ve fallen, your hearing (or lack of it) could also be to blame.
And, while most doctors will consider inner ear problems that can upset your balance, they often easily skip doing a simple hearing test. After all, they’re looking for bigger fish to fry, like vertigo or even Meniere’s disease — an inner ear disorder that causes dizziness.
Yet, a new study is revealing that your hearing plays a bigger role in your balance than anyone ever realized and why a hearing test should be a priority if you’ve suffered a fall…
Background noise and your balance anchor
The study, by a team of researchers from Mount Sinai and New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, was a comprehensive analysis of 28 separate medical articles, examining how sounds affected someone’s ability to keep their balance while standing still.
They also looked at everything from how wearing noise-canceling headphones (a complete lack of sound) affected balance to how sounds like white noise or static, cocktail party chatter or running water affect your ability to stay upright.
And, it came down to this…
It is far more difficult to keep your balance when it’s quiet than when you’re listening to sounds. This means that if you have hearing loss, the less you can hear, the more likely you are to lose your balance.
And, there was one more interesting finding…
The type of sound around you is also important when it comes to balance. Specifically, the researchers found that continuous background noise is the most helpful for keeping your center of gravity. In other words, when you can hear the little things around you at some level, it’s easier to maintain your balance so that you don’t fall.
According to the researchers, the reason this is true is that sound can act as an “auditory anchor.” You use sounds like white noise to help unconsciously create a mental image of the environment around you in order to keep yourself grounded.
The anchor sound provides for your balance becomes even more important as the task you’re doing becomes more difficult, such as when you’re standing on one of those moving walkways or if you’re already living with a pre-existing sensory issue, like hearing or vision loss.
Senior author of the study and Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Maura Cosetti, MD, says that what it comes down to is this, “Ultimately an inability to hear puts patients at higher risk for instability and falls.”
This is vital information for anyone who is well, let’s put it this way… On the other side of 40 (a category I’m squarely in the middle of).
That’s because as the researchers point out, age-related hearing loss is a common problem. In fact, by the time you hit 70, your risk of hearing loss can be up to 67 percent!
This means that if you think you may be experiencing hearing difficulties or are already showing signs of balance problems, like falls, it’s not a time to put your head in the sand, it’s time to get to your doctor and have your hearing checked.
In addition to seeing a hearing specialist, you can also support and preserve your hearing with four supplements scientifically proven to prevent hearing loss.
- Sound can directly affect balance and lead to risk of falling — Medical Xpress