Participants age 40- 60 years in the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) had a concurrent assessment of hearing loss and fall history. It was demonstrated that a hearing loss was discovered in 14.3% of these participants and 4.9% of the participants reported falling over the preceding 12 months. For every 10 dB increase in hearing loss, there was a 1.4 fold increased odds of an individual reporting falling over the preceding 12 months. This study showed that demographic factors (age, sex, race, education), cardiovascular factors (smoking, diabetes, hypertension, stroke), and vestibular balance function did not substantially change the magnitude or significance of this association. Amazingly even excluding those participants with a moderate or severe hearing loss did not affect the magnitude of the results. In other words, people with only a mild hearing loss less than 40 decibels had increased rates of falling. Hearing Professionals can perform a comprehensive hearing test evaluating for even mild losses of hearing.
Hearing Loss and Falls Among Older Adults in the United States
Frank R. Lin, M.D., Ph.D.1,2 and Luigi Ferrucci, M.D., Ph.D.
Arch Intern Med. Feb 27, 2012; 172(4): 369–371. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2011.728