Spotlight: Balance in the News
Hearing Loss Links to an Increased Risk of Falls
International Campaign for Better Hearing
Posted here June 23, 2020
Published February 27, 2017
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the National Institute of Aging discovered that hearing loss increases the risk of falls for older people, by a significant amount.
The research found that the risk of having a fall is even higher for people with more severe hearing loss. In fact, the risks increases 140 percent for every additional 10 decibels of hearing loss. There could many reasons that hearing loss is associated with an increased risk of falls. One reason might be that people with hearing loss have less environmental awareness. This means they don’t notice things happening near to them, such as people, pets, or other things. Many researchers also suggest that people with hearing loss need to use more of their mental resources to hear and interpret speech and other sounds, so they have less mental energy left for other tasks such as balancing.
The study: “Hearing Loss and Falls Among Older Adults in the United States” is headed by Dr Frank Lin from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Luiggi Ferrucci from National Institute of Aging. "Gait and balance are things most people take for granted, but they are actually very cognitively demanding," Dr Lin says. "If hearing loss imposes a cognitive load, there may be fewer cognitive resources to help with maintaining balance and gait."
To read more, click here.
For the full scholarly article, click here.
COVID-19: Coping With Stress
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention | Atlanta, Georgia
Posted here June 23, 2020
Published June 12, 2020
Healthy ways to cope with stress:
Know what to do if you are sick and are concerned about COVID-19. Contact a health professional before you start any self-treatment for COVID-19.
Know where and how to get treatment and other support services and resources, including counseling or therapy (in person or through telehealth services).
Take care of your emotional health. Taking care of your emotional health will help you think clearly and react to the urgent needs to protect yourself and your family.
Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
Take care of your body.
Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
Get plenty of sleep.
Avoid excessive alcohol use and drugs.
Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
Connect with your community or faith-based organizations. While social distancing measures are in place, consider connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail.
For information from the CDC, click here.
Now hear this: Don’t ignore sudden hearing loss
Harvard Health Publishing | Cambridge, Massachusetts
Posted here May 7, 2020
Published December 2019
Everyone's hearing naturally declines with age, and people often have one ear that hears better than the other. But if hearing loss appears suddenly in one ear for no apparent reason, you may have experienced sudden sensorineural hearing loss,, a kind of nerve deafness.
There are about 66,000 new cases of sudden hearing loss per year in the United States, according to research in the August 2019 issue of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. But these numbers are hard to come by, since the condition may be underdiagnosed. "The main reason is that people don't view it as a serious problem and don't get the medical care they need. This delay increases the risk of permanent hearing loss," says Dr. Steven Rauch, an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts Eye and Ear.
It is not known what causes sudden hearing loss, but experts point to several possible reasons: a viral infection, an immune system malfunction, an inflammatory injury to the ear, or blocked blood flow to the ear — or even some combination of these. Sudden hearing loss can affect people of all ages, although it tends to occur most in the 50s and 60s. It usually strikes one ear. You may hear a "pop" or feel like your ear is clogged. "Your hearing often does not go away all at once, either," says Dr. Rauch. "It is a gradual decline over several minutes or even hours, like air leaking from a tire."
Besides hearing problems, sudden hearing loss can affect your balance, which increases your risk of falls. Sudden hearing loss also could be a sign of a small stoke or tumor. Sudden hearing loss gets ignored because the symptoms feel familiar, like a head cold or earwax or water in the ear. People try to treat it with cold or sinus medicine, swimmer's ear drops, or cleaning their ears. "They think it's just an annoying stuffy ear that will go away, so they put it on the back burner until it's too late," says Dr. Rauch.
Time is of the essence to save your hearing. "You have about a 10- to 14-day window to treat sudden hearing loss; otherwise the hearing loss becomes permanent," says Dr. Rauch. "So make sure to see your doctor, or get a referral to visit an ear, nose, and throat specialist if your hearing goes away for longer than a day." However, even with timely treatment, you may not regain your full hearing. "In most cases, mild sudden hearing loss may recover, but people with moderate or severe hearing loss make a total recovery only in about 20% of cases, even with prompt treatment," says Dr. Rauch.
"Remember that if you are used to normal hearing and it suddenly blocks up, that is never okay," says Dr. Rauch. "The sooner you get it checked out, the better. If it is sudden hearing loss, every day you delay reduces your chance of recovery."
To read more, click here.