Falling More Than Usual? Your Hearing May Be to Blame

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Keith Brofsky/Photodisc(NEW YORK) — Poor hearing may play a role in causing middle-aged and older Americans to fall, a new study suggests.

After surveying more than 2,000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey participants aged 40-69, researchers found that for those on a spectrum of normal hearing to mild hearing loss, each 10-decibel decrease in hearing correlated significantly with an increased number of falls over the past year.

This association held true even when zeroing out variations in vestibular function – that is, the part of the inner ear that controls our balance, implying that this is not merely a side effect of increased wobbliness.

The authors propose that missing out on sound cues in the environment, or simply using more brain power to try and strain to hear, may be contributing to the increased stumbles.

Their research was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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