Do you struggle to hear? Are you having trouble following conversations, or talking on the phone? If you’ve been living with untreated hearing loss, you need to know that hearing loss affects your entire health, not just your ears and hearing. Those with hearing loss experience a host of negative health outcomes, such as social isolation, anxiety, and depression. You also risk more rapid cognitive decline, and an earlier onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. But did you know that living with untreated hearing loss also puts you at a far greater risk of accidental injury?
Accidents happen. We’ve all had a few near misses, and the occasional slip, trip, or fall. Maybe our focus dropped for a moment, and we failed to notice a risk in the environment.
A recent study looked at the links between hearing loss and accidental injury, and the results were surprising. Using data from the National Health Interview Survey, which included self-reported accidental injuries, the study included Adults from across the country. Roughly 2.8% of people in the study reported having an injury over a 3-month period. However, adults with hearing loss were more than twice as likely to have accidents! Among adults with excellent hearing, rates of accidental injury are just 2%. For those with hearing loss, the number more than doubled, and roughly 5% of adults with hearing loss had experienced an accidental injury in a 3-month period.
What is the link between hearing loss and accidental injury? According to Hossein Mahboubi from the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of California, Irvine, hearing loss plays a big role in accidents, mainly because the person with hearing loss can’t hear warning sounds in the environment, or only hear warnings when it’s too late to avoid accidental injury. “One can assume that if someone’s hearing is not great,” explained Mahboubi, “if something comes their way like a baseball, or if they’re cycling out there and there’s a car horn getting close to them, they may not be able to hear that, and that theoretically can increase the possibility of getting injured.”
The study looked at injuries at work, during leisure activities, and while driving. The biggest increase in injury for those with hearing loss was during leisure activities, and not on the jobsite or when behind the wheel. If you have hearing loss, you’re more likely to get injured playing sports, walking the dog, or out and about around town. This suggests that those with hearing loss are more cautious at work, realize their hearing loss is affecting their job performance, and are extremely careful to avoid accident or injury.
You might think that those with severe hearing would have more accidents, but the study found that those with got hurt the most were actually adults with mild hearing loss! Those with severe hearing loss are more likely to be aware of their hearing loss, realize it’s affecting their safety, and take more precautions.
Those with mild hearing loss may not realize just how much hearing they’ve lost, or how it’s affecting their safety, as well as the safety of their coworkers and loved ones. Mahboubi thinks people need to be more aware of the dangers of hearing loss, and explains that people “consider hearing difficulty or hearing loss just like a social problem that they have, that they cannot communicate as well, not as a true health risk.”
If you have hearing loss, you may be risking more than you think. You might be okay with missing out on conversations, or staying home rather than meeting friends at a noisy restaurant, but are you willing to risk your safety, both on the job and at home? Improving your hearing isn’t just about improving your quality of life, strengthening your relationships, and keeping you active and engaged, it will also reduce your risk of accidental injuries.
Visit us today at Hearing Aid Specialists of the Central Coast to explore your options, check out our sleek, sophisticated hearing devices, and find out what a hearing aid can do for you.