Many people don’t think of it as one, but hearing loss is actually a comorbidity. It’s important to take note of these linkages between chronic conditions so that they can be addressed and treated properly. It is especially important to rule out hearing loss as a result of a more serious medical issue.
Five Major Comorbidities
There are five major comorbidities of hearing loss. They include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, dementia, and depression. Hearing loss can be devastating on its own, but combining it with another illness can be completely life-altering for some individuals.
According to National Institutes of Health, those with diabetes are twice as likely to develop hearing loss compared to those without. High blood sugar as a result of diabetes has the potential to damage blood vessels and nerves of the inner ear.
Much like diabetes can have an effect on the vessels and nerves of the inner ear, cardiovascular disease can also cause trauma to the inner ear. Damage to blood vessels and nerves of the inner ear can lead to hearing loss.
Issues with the thyroid may impact numerous parts of the body. Researchers are exploring the connection between disorders of the thyroid and hearing loss to better understand the comorbidity.
It isn’t uncommon for individuals that face hearing loss to also experience depression. Adjusting to hearing loss takes an emotional toll. Struggling to understand conversations can make individuals feel isolated in social situations.
When individuals are constantly straining to hear, the brain can become exhausted. This impacts its ability to reach peak performance. Because of this, hearing loss is linked to cognitive decline and dementia. Additionally, the isolated and depressed feelings individuals may experience due to hearing loss can also cause individuals to withdraw. The lack of social interaction can speed up cognitive decline.
Individuals with hearing loss may also suffer from balance issues and subsequent falls. Other less common comorbidities include fibromyalgia, arthritis, sleep apnea, anemia, and kidney disease.