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Comorbidities of Hearing Loss

a woman whose name might be sally is holding a seashell by the seashore

In the past few years, studies have surfaced, pointing to hearing loss and its link to some disabling conditions like heart disease, depression and cognitive loss. Such links are usually known as comorbidities. Comorbidities may also refer to the presence of one or more additional disorders occurring simultaneously with a primary disorder. But it can also be defined as the simultaneous presence of two or more chronic conditions or diseases in a patient. 

Comorbidities of hearing loss

Hearing loss is, in fact, also a comorbidity. However, it can also be associated with other comorbidities. There are mostly six main comorbidities associated with hearing loss. These are social isolation, depression, falls and problems with balance, cardiovascular disease, dementia and diabetes. 

However, beyond the comorbidities already mentioned, there could be other conditions like anemia, sleep apnea, kidney disease, psoriasis, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Social isolation

Hearing loss leads to social isolation, which also comes with loneliness. As a person ages, social isolation increases the risks of both mental and physical health challenges. 
As people continue to lose their hearing, they find it difficult to engage in conversations with people. That often leads to such people withdrawing from social life and gatherings and also choosing to isolate themselves.

Depression

Depression easily follows social isolation, as a person experiencing hearing loss no longer finds it possible to interact with others. Also, losing the ability to hear, experience and enjoy different sounds – nature, music and the voices of loved ones. That can lead most people with hearing loss to experience loneliness and depression. 

What usually follows next is sadness lined with anxiety and the stress of going through each day. Stress and anxiety may go on to become disorders of their own, all playing a part to significantly reduce a person’s quality of life while making it difficult to live a healthy life.

Falls and issues with balance

Our hearing system is also linked with our sense of balance. According to some experts, even a mild degree of hearing loss can triple the risk of accidental falls. That means any damage to a person’s auditory system also affects their sense of balance and relationship with gravity. 

A person’s spatial awareness becomes skewed, as a result, and this leads to issues with balance and an increased risk of falls. Falls are among the leading causes of both non-fatal and fatal injuries, especially among the elderly with hearing loss. And this usually comes with significant emotional, health, economic and social consequences. 

Cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure and blood disease, may show up alongside hearing loss. The tiny hair cells in the ear’s inner part require an adequate blood supply to stay alive. These cells play a huge part in receiving and transporting sound waves to be delivered to the brain. That makes healthy blood flow crucial to the hearing process. 

When there is a limited blood flow resulting from cardiovascular issues, this may hinder the process and adversely impact a person’s hearing. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), cardiovascular diseases are among the leading causes of death in men and women.

Dementia

Many experts have taken the time to study the link between dementia and hearing loss. According to most studies, there is a growing link between untreated hearing loss and an increased risk for dementia. Some studies have shown that if hearing loss is left untreated, the condition adds a significant burden to the brain’s cognitive load. And this, in turn, increases the risk for dementia. 

Some studies have also shown that early prescription of hearing aids for people with early signs of hearing loss issues has helped preserve cognitive abilities. Also, older adults who experience hearing loss have a higher likelihood of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease compared to those with normal hearing. 

Diabetes

High blood pressure can cause damages to blood vessels throughout the human body, which includes the blood vessels located in the inner part of the ear. A person who has lived for a long time with uncontrolled diabetes is likely to have damaged a large network of blood vessels in the ear. This condition can also lead to other complications like nerve damage and damage to the auditory nerves, which can cause hearing loss. 

It is important to ensure that you visit an audiologist as early as possible if you’re experiencing hearing loss. For more information about Siouxland Hearing Healthcare, P.L.C, and comorbidities of hearing loss, feel free to contact us today at, (712) 258-3332.