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Invited Commentary
April 23, 2020

Balance, Falls, and Hearing Loss: Is it Time for a Paradigm Shift?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Physical Therapy, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, New York University, New York, New York
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online April 23, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2020.0415

In this issue of JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, Bang et al1 report a large, population-based study using data from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey V. In this survey, 3864 adults (40 years and older) underwent a hearing test and a balance test. Hearing was measured on both sides via pure tone average and was classified according to the World Health Organization categories for normal, mild, or moderate hearing loss. Static balance was measured by the ability to stand on foam with eyes closed (feet 10 cm apart). Postural instability was defined as failure to maintain a position for at least 20 seconds. The authors found that, adjusting for age and sex, the odds of balance task failure were twice as high if a person had moderate hearing loss in at least one ear (compared with having no hearing loss or mild hearing loss).

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