Hearing loss does more than just affect your ability to perceive what’s being said. Certain hearing-related issues, such as Meniere’s disease, could also affect equilibrium and the sense of natural balance and motion. But could hearing aids address other issues with balance? According to a new study from the Washington University School of Medicine, the answer is yes.
What the Research Shows
For the study, researchers looked at subjects with hearing loss between the ages of 65 and 91. They discovered that patients wearing hearing aids turned on in both ears performed better on various balance tests.
The small study is the first one of its kind to show a connection between balance and the perception of sound information beyond what’s involved with the inner ear balance system. This is especially significant for older adults with hearing loss since improving balance can reduce the risk of falling.
Creating Clearer Auditory Reference Points
The study’s lead author believes the results go beyond just experiencing better results because of the wearing of hearing aids. The professor of otolaryngology involved with the study suggests the hearing aids helped participants create auditory reference points that allowed them to improve their stability. In other words, being able to hear better with correctly fitted and adjusted hearing aids could also help the brain process balance-related information with better accuracy.
Testing Balance and Hearing
All participants performed various balance tests with and without their hearing aids turned on. With the hearing aids turned on, subjects with balance-related problems were able to continue to achieve the goals of the tests for longer periods of time. With a foam pad test, individuals were able to stay balanced on the pad for approximately 17 seconds, on average, with hearing aids turned off. However, when the hearing aids were turned on, this average time increased to 26 seconds.
What the Results Mean for Hearing Aid Wearers
The participants could tell whether their hearing aids were on or off. However, researchers mixed things up among the subjects by varying when hearing aids were turned on and off. Researchers hope to move forward with a larger study in the near future. The results, at the very least, suggest hearing aids can improve quality of life beyond just improving the ability to hear for wearers.
Call Us Today
Are you living with some degree of hearing loss right now? If so, visit Atkins Hearing Center. Our hearing specialists will assess your hearing and hearing loss and address any concerns you may have about balance or other hearing-related issues. We’ll help you find a personalized solution that’s tailored to your needs, budget, and personal preferences.
Call us today to set up an appointment at our hearing center.