Hearing loss can be a difficult condition to cope with, since it affects the way you interact with the world around you. Hearing loss can affect more than just your ears. It’s common for a person’s hearing loss to impact other conditions, and vice versa. This occurrence is known as comorbidity. Comorbidities refer to two or more chronic conditions or diseases that exist simultaneously.
If you’re experiencing hearing loss, you should make an appointment with your audiologist right away. You should also go for a checkup with your primary care doctor to ensure you’re not experiencing any other coexisting conditions.
Common Comorbidities of Hearing Loss
Comorbidities of hearing loss can range from physical to mental health conditions. Some of the most common comorbidities of hearing loss are:
Tinnitus: Tinnitus refers to the perception of ringing, buzzing, or other noises in the ears or head. The condition is especially common in older adults and affects 15-20 percent of the US population. Tinnitus frequently accompanies hearing loss and can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life.
Cognitive decline and dementia:
Cognitive decline and dementia: Recent research shows that hearing loss may be a contributing factor for developing dementia. The exact nature of this relationship is still being explored, and Johns Hopkins University has been conducting research to discover whether wearing hearing aids may actually prevent dementia. This emphasizes the importance of addressing hearing loss to potentially prevent cognitive decline.
Mental health issues:
Mental health issues: Individuals with untreated hearing loss may experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, and social isolation. Hearing loss can make it difficult to communicate with others in social settings. Many people who are struggling with hearing loss find themselves shutting down and isolating themselves.
Cardiovascular disease: Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the US, according to the Center for Disease Control. Studies have found an association between conditions such as cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure and hearing loss. The shared risk factors, such as reduced blood flow and damage to blood vessels, may contribute to this connection.
Diabetes: Diabetes has been linked to an increased risk of hearing loss. Approximately 37 million people in the US are affected by diabetes. When diabetes is left unmanaged, high blood glucose can damage blood vessels throughout the body—including the ones in your ears. Nerve damage caused by diabetes can contribute to hearing loss as well.
Falls and balance issues:
Falls and balance issues: Balance disorders can make you feel dizzy and unsteady. Particularly in older adults, there’s often a link between hearing loss and an increased risk of balance issues and falls. This is because your ears are part of the vestibular system, which helps the body maintain its balance. Hearing loss can also affect spatial awareness and the ability to detect and respond to environmental cues.
It’s important to note that while these comorbidities are often associated with hearing loss, not everyone with hearing loss will experience these conditions. Treating hearing loss through interventions like hearing aids or cochlear implants may help alleviate some of these effects.
The Importance of Treating Hearing Loss
Just as you get an annual physical exam, it’s important to get your hearing checked regularly. Next to heart disease and arthritis, hearing loss is the third-most prevalent physical condition in the US. However, the average person will wait seven years after the first signs of hearing loss before they get their hearing checked. Left untreated, hearing loss can become worse. And untreated hearing loss can lead to several other physical and mental conditions.
As soon as you or a loved one notice you’re experiencing signs of hearing loss, visit your audiologist for a comprehensive hearing assessment. Your audiologist will be able to recommend the best treatment options for your individual case as well as management of any comorbidities related to hearing loss.
How North Houston Hearing Solutions Can Help
Here at North Houston Hearing Solutions, we specialize in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of hearing loss. We offer advanced hearing devices from leading manufacturers to help our patients hear better and communicate with the world around them.
Our patients trust our team because we are dedicated to providing a high standard of care. Whether you need hearing aid repairs, earwax removal, balance testing, or cognitive screening, we’ve got you covered. And to make audiology convenient for our patients, we are now offering Tele Audiology so that you can consult with your audiologist from the comfort of your home.