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Hearing loss linked to falls

Hearing loss linked to falls
28th February 2012

People who experience hearing loss could be at a greater risk of falling, according to a recent study.

Using data from 2,017 participants between the ages of 40 and 69, it was found that those with hearing impediments were more likely to fall.

The discovery was made by testing subjects hearing and asking questions about if they had fallen over the past year. Researchers at John Hopkins University also used demographic information, including age, sex and race, and tested vestibular function.

Published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, their findings showed that hearing loss also severely impeded a person's ability to keep their balance.

People with mild hearing loss are nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling, with every 10-decibels of hearing loss increasing risk by 1.4 per cent.

Dr Frank Lin, leader of the study, commented: "Gait and balance are things most people take for granted, but they are actually very cognitively demanding.

"If hearing loss imposes a cognitive load, there may be fewer cognitive resources to help with maintaining balance and gait."

Previous studies have shown that hearing loss increases a person's risk of developing dementia - a condition that also causes an increased risk of trips and falls.

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