McDonald Hearing Services - Grand Rapids, MI

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

Your body is a lot like an ecosystem. In nature, if there’s a problem with the pond, all of the birds and fish suffer the consequences; and all of the plants and animals that depend on the birds will disappear if the birds disappear. The human body, often unbeknownst to us, functions on very similar methods of interconnection. That’s why something that seems isolated, such as hearing loss, can be linked to a wide variety of other diseases and ailments.

This is, in a sense, proof of the interdependence of your body and it’s resemblance to an ecosystem. When something affects your hearing, it may also impact your brain. We call these circumstances comorbid, a fancy (and specialized) term that demonstrates a link between two conditions without necessarily pointing directly at a cause-and-effect connection.

The conditions that are comorbid with hearing loss can give us lots of information concerning our bodies’ ecosystems.

Hearing Loss And The Conditions That Are Linked to it

So, let’s suppose that you’ve been noticing the symptoms of hearing loss for the last several months. It’s been challenging to follow discussions in restaurants. You’ve been turning up the volume on your tv. And some sounds just feel a bit further away. When this is the situation, most people will schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist (this is the practical thing to do, actually).

Whether you recognize it or not, your hearing loss is connected to a number of other health issues. Some of the health conditions that have documented comorbidity with hearing loss include:

  • Dementia: untreated hearing loss has been connected to a higher chance of dementia, although the base cause of that relationship is not clear. Research indicates that wearing a hearing aid can help slow cognitive decline and lower a lot of these dementia concerns.
  • Diabetes: likewise, your entire nervous system can be influenced in a negative way by diabetes (specifically in your extremities). one of the areas especially likely to be affected are the nerves in the ear. This damage can cause hearing loss by itself. But your symptoms can be multiplied because diabetes related nerve damage can make you more prone to hearing loss from other factors.
  • Vertigo and falls: your primary tool for balance is your inner ear. Vertigo and dizziness can be created by some forms of hearing loss because they have a damaging impact on the inner ear. Falls are more and more dangerous as you age and falls can happen whenever there is a loss of balance
  • Depression: social separation brought on by hearing loss can cause a whole host of concerns, many of which are related to your mental health. So depression and anxiety, not surprisingly, have been found in several studies, to have a high rate of comorbidity with hearing loss.
  • Cardiovascular disease: hearing loss and cardiovascular conditions are not always interconnected. But sometimes hearing loss can be aggravated by cardiovascular disease. That’s because one of the initial signs of cardiovascular disease is trauma to the blood vessels in the inner ear. Your hearing may suffer as a result of the of that trauma.

What’s The Solution?

It can seem a bit frightening when you add all those health conditions together. But one thing should be kept in mind: managing your hearing loss can have huge positive effects. Researchers and scientists understand that if hearing loss is addressed, the chance of dementia significantly lowers even though they don’t really know precisely why hearing loss and dementia show up together to begin with.

So the best course of action, regardless of what comorbid condition you might be worried about, is to have your hearing checked.

Part of an Ecosystem

That’s why more medical professionals are viewing hearing health with fresh eyes. Instead of being a somewhat limited and specific area of concern, your ears are thought of as closely linked to your general wellness. We’re starting to think about the body as an interconnected environment in other words. Hearing loss isn’t an isolated situation. So it’s important to pay attention to your health as a whole.

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