Man talking with healthcare provider about his diabetes and hearing loss.

Your body is similar to an ecosystem. In nature, all of the fish and birds will suffer if something happens to the pond; and when the birds disappear so too do all of the animals and plants that rely on those birds. We might not know it but our body operates on very similar principals. That’s why a wide variety of afflictions can be linked to something that at first appears so isolated like hearing loss.

This is, in a way, proof of the interdependence of your body and it’s similarity to an ecosystem. Your brain may also be affected if something affects your hearing. We call these situations comorbid, a fancy (and specialized) term that illustrates a link between two disorders without necessarily articulating a cause-and-effect relationship.

We can find out a lot regarding our bodies’ ecosystem by understanding disorders that are comorbid with hearing loss.

Conditions Associated With Hearing Loss

So, let’s assume that you’ve been recognizing the symptoms of hearing loss for the last few months. You’ve been having a tough time hearing what people are saying when you go out for a bite. You’ve been cranking the volume up on your tv. And certain sounds sound so far away. It would be a good choice at this point to set up an appointment with a hearing specialist.

Whether you’re aware of it or not, your hearing loss is connected to several other health conditions. Some of the health problems that have reported comorbidity with hearing loss include:

  • Dementia: untreated hearing loss has been linked to a higher risk of dementia, although it’s uncertain what the base cause is. Many of these incidents of dementia and also cognitive decline can be slowed, according to research, by using hearing aids.
  • Diabetes: likewise, your overall nervous system can be negatively influenced by diabetes (specifically in your extremities). one of the areas particularly likely to be affected are the nerves in the ear. This damage can cause hearing loss all on its own. But your symptoms can be compounded because diabetes related nerve damage can cause you to be more susceptible to hearing loss caused by other factors.
  • Depression: social isolation associated with hearing loss can cause a whole host of concerns, some of which are related to your mental health. So it’s not surprising that study after study finds depression and anxiety have really high comorbidity rates with hearing loss.
  • Cardiovascular disease: hearing loss and cardiovascular conditions are not always interconnected. In other instances, cardiovascular problems can make you more subject to hearing loss. The reason for this is that trauma to the blood vessels of the inner ear is one of the first signs of cardiovascular disease. As that trauma gets worse, your hearing could suffer as a result.
  • Vertigo and falls: your principal tool for balance is your inner ear. There are some forms of hearing loss that can wreak havoc with your inner ear, causing dizziness and vertigo. Falls are increasingly dangerous as you get older and falls can occur whenever there is a loss of balance

What’s The Answer?

It can seem a little scary when you add all those health conditions together. But it’s important to remember one thing: managing your hearing loss can have enormous positive effects. Scientists and researchers recognize that if hearing loss is treated, the risk of dementia significantly lowers although they don’t really know precisely why dementia and hearing loss show up together to begin with.

So the best way to go, no matter what comorbid condition you might be worried about, is to have your hearing tested.

Part of an Ecosystem

That’s why more health care specialists are viewing hearing health with fresh eyes. Your ears are being viewed as a part of your overall health profile instead of being a targeted and limited concern. In other words, we’re starting to perceive the body more like an interrelated ecosystem. Hearing loss doesn’t always develop in isolation. So it’s more important than ever that we address the totality, not to the proverbial pond or the birds in isolation, but to your health as a whole.

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