Hearing Blog

Your source for all things related to Hearing & Deafness.

Can Hearing Loss Increase Your Risk of an Accident?

Can Hearing Loss Increase Your Risk of an Accident? - Hearing, Balance and Speech Center

It’s estimated that in the United States, 1 in 3 Americans between the ages of 65-74 experience hearing loss. For many, impaired hearing is seen as a natural part of the aging process. However, hearing loss can affect people of any age.

Impaired hearing is the most recognizable symptom of a hearing loss. You may, however, be surprised to learn that hearing loss can affect much more. Research is pointing to a connection between hearing loss and accidental injuries.

Hearing Loss and Accidental Injuries

A study carried out at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston looked into the link between hearing loss and accidental injuries.

Lead study author Dr. Neil Bhattacharyya said, “Hearing is a special sense that plays an important role in warning us of danger in our surroundings."

Throughout the study, the team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital analyzed data from the US National Health Interview Survey. Their analysis pointed to 6.6 million respondents who reported an accident in the previous three months. Of these 6.6 million, those with a hearing impairment were two times more likely to have suffered an accident.

Can Hearing Loss Leave You Accident Prone?

It’s worth noting that the study did not prove that hearing loss resulted in the risk of an accident increasing. The study does, however, show “a strong relationship between poorer hearing and accidental injury, especially since the rate of injury increased steadily as the reported hearing worsened." Examining the data closer shows that injuries were more likely to occur during leisure activities. When participating in these activities, we are often exposed to noisy areas. Background noise can be present, and distractions can be found everywhere.

With a hearing loss, focusing on a leisure activity requires greater levels of concentration. Focusing on conversations or the activity itself can be quite taxing. This is especially true where the leisure activity is in a noisy environment.

In certain situations (such as a run in the park), you may have cyclists approaching you from behind. They may call out a warning, such as “on your right.” With a hearing loss, hearing these warnings can be difficult.

Tips to Keep Safe

These tips can help you reduce your risk of accidents if you have a hearing loss.

  • Wear your hearing aid devices. These will help you process the auditory information around you. Ensure that it’s working properly. Adjust the settings if needed so they are suitable for the environment.
  • Pay attention to your environment. Take particular note if someone has told you that you are missing things being said to you.
  • Let people know you have a hearing impairment. This is a great way to ensure that you don’t miss important information. Ask the people you are with to let you know if they’ve heard or noticed something you missed.
  • Take regular breaks. Give your hearing (and brain) time to decompress. Take just a few minutes in a quieter environment.

Staying on top of your hearing health is one of the best ways to reduce your risks of accidents. If you’d like information on how you can protect your hearing, please visit our website. Our patient resources and blog segments contain informative articles and tips to help you protect your hearing.

Research / Sources

  1. https://consumer.healthday.com/disabilities-information-11/hearing-loss-news-352/hearing-loss-might-leave-you-accident-prone-732232.html