When individuals have problems with hearing, they also have problems with balance.
Our balance is controlled by the Cerebellum located within the brain. Hillary K. Siddons and Frank E. Musiek of the University of Connecticut states, “the cerebellum is involved in cognitive functions such as attention, language, and emotion”.
The cerebellum is also a component of the central auditory nervous system; this explains why the two, hearing and balance, are so intertwined. The cerebellum is classified as a vestibular function – “the balance mechanism of the inner ear that provides sensory information about spatial orientation, motion, and equilibrium” (Packer)
It is important to be conscious of if you are having hearing problems because not being properly diagnosed can lead to accidental injury. The leading cause of injuries to older individuals is falling during everyday tasks like walking.
The JAMA Network shows the number of accidental falls in each category of hearing loss:
A study in 2013 concluded that“accidental injuries are among the leading cause of illness and death in the United States, with an estimated 28 million emergency department visits for unintentional injuries in 2013” (Jama Network), and the number has only gone up since then.
Hearing can be defined as a special sense, which is why when it is altered the body becomes out of whack. Although older individuals are most susceptible to the accidental falls due to hearing loss, “even a mild degree of hearing loss tripled the risk if an accidental fall, with the risk increasing by 140 percent for every additional 10 decibels of hearing loss” (Packer).
Besides the most common accidental injury, falling, other accidental injuries that are reported are injuries while driving, sports, and every day, normal activities. All of those activities deal with spatial awareness “where the body is positioned in relation to other people and objects around it” (Packer). When your hearing sense is altered, you lose your spatial awareness. How can you combat accidental injuries due to hearing loss? The best way would be to get your hearing checked especially if you are experiencing differences in your hearing.
If severe enough, your audiologist might recommend you receive hearing aids.