The purpose of the present study was to examine, first, whether hearing acuity predicts falls and whether the potential association is explained by postural balance and, second, to examine whether shared genetic or environmental effects underlie these associations.
Hearing was measured using a clinical audiometer as a part of the Finnish Twin Study on Aging in 103 monozygotic and 114 dizygotic female twin pairs aged 63-76 years. Postural balance was indicated as a center of pressure (COP) movement in semi-tandem stance, and participants filled in a fall-calendar daily for an average of 345 days after the baseline.
Mean hearing acuity (better ear hearing threshold level at 0.5-4 kHz) was 21 dB (standard deviation [SD] 12). Means of the COP velocity moment for the best to the poorest hearing quartiles increased linearly from 40.7 mm(2)/s (SD 24.4) to 52.8 mm(2)/s (SD 32.0) (p value for the trend = .003). Altogether 199 participants reported 437 falls. Age-adjusted incidence rate ratios (IRRs) for falls, with the best hearing quartile as a reference, were 1.2 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.4-3.8) in the second, 4.1 (95% CI = 1.1-15.6) in the third, and 3.4 (95% CI = 1.0-11.4) in the poorest hearing quartiles. Adjustment for COP velocity moment decreased IRRs markedly. Twin analyses showed that the association between hearing acuity and postural balance was not explained by genetic factors in common for these traits.
People with poor hearing acuity have a higher risk for falls, which is partially explained by their poorer postural control. Auditory information about environment may be important for safe mobility.
Cites: Am J Otolaryngol. 1999 Nov-Dec;20(6):371-810609481
Cites: J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2008 Feb;63(2):171-818314453
The aim of this study was to investigate the association of noise sensitivity with self-reported hearing disability and hearing levels, with consideration of the role of self-reported history of noise exposure and use of hearing protectors. The study is based on the Finnish Twin Cohort. In 1988, a noise questionnaire was sent to 1005 twin pairs, 1495 individuals (688 men, 807 women) replied. The age range was 31-88 years. Information on some potential confounders was obtained from the questionnaire in 1981 for the same individuals. A subsample of thirty-eight elderly women with noise sensitivity response from 1988 had audiometry data from 2000 to 2001. Noise sensitivity was associated with self-reported hearing disability among all subjects [odds ratio (OR) 1.55, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.14-2.12] and among women (OR 1.90, 95% CI 1.19-3.04), but no-more significantly among men (OR 1.31, 95% CI 0.86-1.98). The association was primarily seen among younger subjects (50 years or less). The difference between noise sensitive and non-noise sensitive elderly women in the average of thresholds at frequencies of 0.5-4 kHz in the better ear was not significant (Pr = 0.18). Noise sensitivity did not modify the association of hearing disability with the self-reported history of occupational noise exposure. Noise sensitivity was associated with the use of hearing protectors at work. The study shows the importance of recognizing the noise sensitive in noise effect studies, since sensitivity in annoyance has implications in most of the effect categories.