The World Health Organization estimates that over 5% of the global population live with some form of severe hearing loss. It’s estimated that over 40% of people over 65 experience moderate to severe hearing problems.
If you’re one of the millions of people affected by a hearing impairment, you already know the challenges you’re faced with in day to day life. One thing you may not have considered, however, is how hearing loss can impact your safety.
Hearing Loss & Safety – What You Need to Know
Hearing loss can impact many parts of your life. Aside from struggling to hear, hearing loss can affect you in many other ways.
It’s easy to forget how much we rely on auditory cues in our environment. Our ability to hear can keep us safe. But what happens if you have a hearing loss? When left untreated, hearing loss can pose a safety risk. Below are a few ways.
Hearing Loss & Increased Risk of Accidents
Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston carried out a study that researched the link between hearing loss and accidental injuries. The research indicated “a strong relationship between poorer hearing and accidental injury, especially since the rate of injury increased steadily as the reported hearing worsened.”
Many of the reported accidental injuries happened during leisure activities. Many leisure activities involve a fair amount of background noise and distractions. Hearing loss can make it more difficult to focus on what’s going on. This in turn can increase the risk of an accident.
Hearing Loss & Driving
Driving requires focus. It involves a number of our key senses, including vision and hearing. Concentrating on the road, other drivers, and potential hazards requires tremendous concentration.
Drivers with a hearing loss face a unique set of challenges that can affect their safety. We use our hearing when driving to help keep us safe. From hearing an emergency siren, to listening to updated road traffic reports. For tips on keeping safe while driving with a hearing loss, please click here.
Hearing Loss & Risks of Falling
Research from Johns Hopkins has shown that hearing loss is linked to problems walking and falls. Over the course of 12 years, a study led by Johns Hopkins expert Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D tracked 639 adults.
The study showed that hearing loss can lead to issues with balance. Specialists believe that there are three main reasons that hearing loss can affect balance:
- Hearing loss can make it more difficult to be aware of your surroundings. This can make it harder to be aware of people, animals and / or activities going on around you.
- Hearing loss can decrease spatial awareness. This makes it more difficult to judge where your body is relative to objects around you.
- Your brain is more focused on hearing. Hearing loss makes our brains work harder to process sound. This additional processing power pulls resources from other areas your brain would work on, such as balance.
Hearing Loss Safety Tips
Untreated hearing loss can pose a risk to your safety. But there are steps that you can take to keep you safe. These include:
- Get a customized alarm. Whether it’s a bedside alarm clock, or a smoke detector, you want to make sure you are alerted to any alarm. There are features that can help, ranging from flashing lights to vibrating alarm clocks.
- Be alerted to unplanned visitors. Will you always hear your doorbell? You may want to consider a smart doorbell, that can send alerts to your smartphone if someone is approaching your front door.
- Keep your friends and family in the loop. Make sure that your friends and family are aware of your hearing loss. Likewise, have a plan of action in case anything should happen.
- Keep spare hearing aids and batteries. If you wear hearing aid devices, make sure you have a back-up. Extra batteries are also recommended, to ensure that you don’t worry about your devices running out of power.
- Wear your hearing aids. Wearing your hearing aids as prescribed by your hearing healthcare specialists is one of the best ways to help keep you safe.
Better Hearing Starts With Come Hear Hearing Center
In these uncertain times, it’s important that you do what you can to protect your hearing health. Protecting your hearing is a great way to help your communication abilities. A few simple, common-sense practices can help you protect your hearing. Click here to learn more.