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Improved Balance with Hearing Aids

Who was it who said getting old is not for the faint of heart? It’s true, isn’t it?

Among some of the “ailments” we develop as we age, hearing loss and balance problems seem to be at the forefront. And when plagued by hearing loss, many people want to wait until it is bad enough to warrant a costly hearing aid.

Wrong decision on so many levels. But the most recent study finds that hearing aids seem to improve balance in older adults with hearing loss. In a 2014 study published in the online issue of The Laryngoscope, researchers found that patients with hearing aids in both ears performed better on standard balance tests when their hearing aids were turned on versus when they were turned off.

The study which was performed at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis shows that sound information, separate from the balance system of the inner ear, contributes to maintain the body’s stability. The study lends support to the idea that improving hearing through hearing aids or cochlear implants may help reduce the risk of falls for older people. This occurs because “the participants appeared to be using the sound information coming through their hearing aids as auditory reference points or landmarks to help maintain balance. It’s a bit like using your eyes to tell where you are in space,” according to the senior author Timothy E. Hullar, MD, professor of otolaryngology.

Interesting. I thought I was better balanced in my yoga classes when I wear my hearing aids but decided this might just be wishful thinking. Now I see that there is some truth to this and perhaps the reason so many of my classmates wear their hearing aids during class.