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Enhanced Hearing Center - Springfield, MO

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

Your body and an ecosystem are similar in some ways. 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 plants and animals that depend on those birds. The human body, commonly unbeknownst to us, operates on very similar methods of interconnection. That’s the reason why a large number of illnesses can be linked to something that at first seems so isolated like hearing loss.

This is, in a way, proof of the interdependence of your body and it’s resemblance to an ecosystem. Your brain might also be affected if something affects your hearing. These conditions are called comorbid, a fancy (and specialized) term that demonstrates a link between two conditions while not necessarily articulating a cause-and-effect connection.

We can learn a lot about our bodies’ ecosystem by understanding conditions that are comorbid with hearing loss.

Hearing Loss And The Disorders That Are Related to it

So, let’s suppose that you’ve been noticing the symptoms of hearing loss for the last couple of months. It’s more difficult to follow conversations in restaurants. You’ve been turning the volume up on your tv. And certain sounds just seem a little further away. At this stage, most people will set up an appointment with a hearing specialist (this is the practical thing to do, actually).

Your hearing loss is linked to several health conditions whether you recognize it or not. Some of the health conditions that have documented comorbidity with hearing loss include:

  • Depression: a whole range of issues can be the result of social isolation because of hearing loss, some of which relate to your mental health. So it’s not surprising that study after study finds anxiety and depression have really high comorbidity rates with hearing loss.
  • Diabetes: similarly, your entire nervous system can be negatively influenced by diabetes (specifically in your extremities). the nerves in the ear are especially likely to be affected. This damage can cause loss of hearing all on its own. But diabetes-related nerve damage can also make you more vulnerable to hearing loss caused by other factors, often compounding your symptoms.
  • Dementia: a higher risk of dementia has been connected to hearing loss, although the underlying cause of that relationship is unclear. Research suggests that using a hearing aid can help slow cognitive decline and lower many of these dementia risks.
  • Vertigo and falls: your main tool for balance is your inner ear. Vertigo and dizziness can be caused by some forms of hearing loss because they have a negative influence on the inner ear. Any loss of balance can, of course, cause falls, and as you get older, falls can become significantly more hazardous.
  • Cardiovascular disease: hearing loss and cardiovascular conditions are not necessarily linked. In other cases, cardiovascular issues can make you more vulnerable to hearing loss. That’s because one of the first signs of cardiovascular disease is trauma to the blood vessels of the inner ear. Your hearing could suffer as a result of the of that trauma.

What Can You Do?

It can seem a little scary when you add all those health conditions together. But one thing should be kept in mind: dealing with your hearing loss can have huge positive impacts. Scientists and researchers recognize that if hearing loss is managed, the chance of dementia significantly lowers even though they don’t really know exactly why hearing loss and dementia show up together in the first place.

So the best way to go, regardless of what comorbid condition you might be worried about, is to get your hearing tested.

Part of an Ecosystem

This is why health care professionals are rethinking the importance of how to treat hearing loss. Instead of being a somewhat limited and specific area of concern, your ears are thought of as closely connected to your overall wellness. In a nutshell, we’re starting to perceive the body more like an interconnected environment. Hearing loss doesn’t always happen 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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