Hearing loss isn’t just the loss of your hearing. It may lead to other issues in your body. Sometimes hearing loss is, in fact, a symptom or result of another potentially more serious health problem. The signs and illnesses that accompany hearing loss are called comorbidities.
These comorbidities can include physical disorders such as heart disease, thyroid, and diabetes disease. Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease may also be included.
Here are some of the most widespread comorbidities of hearing loss, and they can help you understand the connections between hearing loss and other illnesses.
Heart disease tops the list of most common medical conditions (second is arthritis, and the third is a hearing loss).
Believe it or not, heart disease and hearing loss are related. Healthy blood flow is crucial in the auditory process, because parts of your inner ear receive sound waves, translate them into neural signals, and process them in your brain’s auditory cortex.
The internal ear environment is a sophisticated hair cell system that requires proper blood flow. Issues with your cardiovascular system can affect blood flow in the auditory cycle, and may, therefore, change your hearing.
According to a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health ( NIH), people with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer hearing loss than those without.
Researchers found a higher rate of hearing loss in participants with diabetes after analyzing hearing test results given to a representative sample of American adults. The tests measured the ability of both ears to understand high, medium, and low frequencies. The connection between hearing loss and diabetes was apparent across all frequency bands, particularly in the higher frequency range.
“Hearing loss may be an under-recognized complication of diabetes. As diabetes becomes more common, the disease may become a more significant contributor to hearing loss. Our study found a strong and consistent link between hearing impairment and diabetes using several different outcomes,” according to senior author Catherine Cowie, Ph.D., of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
She also recommended that those with diabetes take a hearing test, too, along with their diabetes treatment program.
The thyroid produces hormones that regulate the body’s metabolisms, and any thyroid disorder may affect other parts of the body, such as your energy level, heart rate, or hearing.
Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism have both been associated with hearing loss. Research on why is ongoing, but it is understood that thyroid disorders cause hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance.
Individuals with hearing loss are up to five times more likely to develop dementia.
According to several significant studies, older adults with hearing loss, especially men, have a higher likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia than their hearing peers. Men with hearing loss were also 69 percent more likely than men with no hearing impairment to develop dementia.
If a person’s hearing loss worsens, the risk escalates. People with a mild hearing loss are about twice as likely as those with normal hearing to develop dementia. The risk for those with moderate hearing loss increases threefold and fivefold for those with severe impairment.
The emotional stress of hearing loss can be much more severe than you realize. When you can’t hear clearly, you’ll miss out on the sounds you love most, like the birds chirping outside your window, your grandchildren laughing in the backyard, or the subtle nuances of your favorite song.
If you can not hear clearly, you can’t socialize as quickly as before, and your relationships can suffer. You stop going to crowded restaurants with your friends, and you are embarrassed about asking your loved ones to repeat themselves. This leads to a less active social life and an increase in the risk of depression.
Treating Hearing Loss
More and more medical experts are advising older adults to meet with a hearing professional and be treated as part of an overall health regime.
Why not the right thing for your hearing health and tackle hearing loss comorbidities by visiting us? Our team is ready to help you get onto a path to better health by taking a hearing assessment and receiving quality hearing loss treatment.