Hearing Loss Triples Risk of Falling: Study02/28/12
MONDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Hearing loss is associated
with an increased risk of falling, according to a new study.
Johns Hopkins researchers analyzed data from more than 2,000
people ages 40 to 69 who took part in the U.S. National Health and
Nutrition Examination Survey from 2001 to 2004. The participants
had their hearing tested and answered questions about whether they
had had a fall in the past year.
The study found that people with a 25-decibel hearing loss
(classified as mild) were nearly three times more likely to have a
history of falling than those with no hearing loss. Every
additional 10 decibels of hearing loss meant an increased 1.4-fold
risk of falling.
The findings held after the researchers accounted for other
factors linked with falling, such as age, sex, race, heart disease
People with impaired hearing don't have good awareness of their
overall environment, which makes them more likely to trip and fall,
said study author Dr. Frank Lin, an assistant professor at the
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the university's
Bloomberg School of Public Health.
It might also be that with hearing loss, the brain becomes
overwhelmed by the demands on its limited resources, Lin
"Gait and balance are things most people take for granted, but they are actually very cognitively demanding," Lin, an otologist and epidemiologist, said in a university news release. "If hearing loss imposes a cognitive load, there may be fewer cognitive resources to help with maintaining balance and gait."
The study appeared Feb. 28 in the
Archives of Internal Medicine.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers
guidelines for preventing falls.
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