New research has shown that hearing aids appear to improve balance in older adults with hearing loss.

According to a recent study, patients with hearing aids in both ears performed better on standard balance tests when their hearing aids were turned on, as compared with when they were off.

The study demonstrated that sound information, separate from the balance system of the inner ear, contributes to maintaining the body’s stability. The study supports the theory that improving hearing through hearing aids may help reduce the risk of falls in older people.

“We don’t think it’s just that wearing hearing aids makes the person more alert,” said the author. “The participants appeared to be using the sound information coming through their hearing aids as auditory reference points to help maintain balance. It’s a bit like using your eyes to tell where you are in space. If we turn out the lights, people sway a little bit—more than they would if they could see. This study suggests that opening your ears also gives you information about balance.”