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

Your body is a lot like an ecosystem. In the natural world, if something happens to the pond, all of the fish and birds are impacted as well; and when the birds go away so too do all of the animals and plants that depend on those birds. We may not know it but our body works on very similar principals. That’s why something that appears isolated, like hearing loss, can be connected to a wide variety of other ailments and diseases.

This is, in a sense, evidence of the interdependence of your body and it’s resemblance to an ecosystem. Your brain might also be affected if something affects your hearing. We call these conditions comorbid, a fancy (and specialized) label that illustrates a connection between two conditions without necessarily pointing directly at a cause-and-effect relationship.

The conditions that are comorbid with hearing loss can tell us a lot regarding our bodies’ ecosystems.

Conditions Associated With Hearing Loss

So, let’s assume that you’ve been recognizing the symptoms of hearing loss for the past few months. You’ve been having a hard time making out what people are saying when you go out for a bite. The volume of your television is constantly getting louder. And certain sounds sound so far away. It would be a smart choice at this point to set up an appointment with a hearing specialist.

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

  • Vertigo and falls: your inner ear is your principal tool for balance. Vertigo and dizziness can be caused by some types of hearing loss because they have a negative influence on the inner ear. Falls are more and more dangerous as you age and falls can occur whenever there is a loss of balance
  • Depression: a whole range of concerns can be the result of social isolation because of hearing loss, some of which relate to your mental health. So depression and anxiety, not surprisingly, have been found in study after study, to have a high rate of comorbidity with hearing loss.
  • Cardiovascular disease: occasionally hearing loss doesn’t have anything to do with cardiovascular disease. In other instances, cardiovascular issues can make you more vulnerable to hearing loss. That’s because one of the initial symptoms of cardiovascular disease is trauma to the blood vessels of the inner ear. Your hearing might suffer as a result of the of that trauma.
  • Dementia: a higher chance of dementia has been associated with hearing loss, though it’s uncertain what the root cause is. Research shows that wearing a hearing aid can help slow down cognitive decline and lower many of these dementia concerns.
  • Diabetes: similarly, your entire nervous system can be influenced in a negative way by diabetes (particularly in your extremities). one of the areas particularly likely to be damaged are the nerves in the ear. This damage can cause loss of hearing all on its own. But your symptoms can be multiplied because diabetes related nerve damage can make you more susceptible to hearing loss from other factors.

What Can You Do?

It can seem a little scary when all those health conditions get added together. But one thing should be kept in mind: huge positive affect can be gained by dealing with your hearing loss. Though researchers and scientists don’t really know, for example, why dementia and hearing loss so often show up together, they do know that treating hearing loss can substantially lower your risk of dementia.

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

Part of an Ecosystem

That’s the reason why more health care specialists are viewing hearing health with new eyes. Your ears are being considered as a part of your total health profile instead of being a specific and limited concern. In a nutshell, we’re beginning to perceive the body more like an interconnected environment. Hearing loss doesn’t necessarily develop in isolation. So it’s more important than ever that we keep your eye on the totality, not to the proverbial pond or the birds in isolation, but to your health as a whole.

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