Illini Hearing - Champaign and Mahomet, IL

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 when the birds go away so too do all of the animals and plants that rely on those birds. We might not recognize it but our body functions on very similar principals. That’s the reason why a large number of afflictions can be linked to something that at first appears so isolated like hearing loss.

In a sense, that’s just more proof of your body’s ecosystem-like interdependence. Your brain might also be impacted if something affects your hearing. We call these situations comorbid, a name that is specialized and indicates when two conditions affect each other but don’t necessarily have a cause and effect relationship.

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

Hearing Loss And The Disorders That Are Connected to it

So, let’s suppose that you’ve been noticing the signs of hearing loss for the past several months. It’s harder to follow along with conversations in restaurants. You’ve been turning the volume up on your television. And certain sounds sound so far away. It would be a good choice at this point to make an appointment with a hearing specialist.

Your hearing loss is connected to numerous health conditions whether you recognize it or not. Some of the health problems that have reported comorbidity with hearing loss include:

  • Vertigo and falls: your main tool for balance is your inner ear. Vertigo and dizziness can be created by some forms of hearing loss because they have a damaging influence on the inner ear. Any loss of balance can, naturally, cause falls, and as you age, falls can become significantly more dangerous.
  • Dementia: a higher risk of dementia has been linked to hearing loss, although the root cause of that relationship is unclear. Many of these incidents of dementia and also cognitive decline can be reduced, according to research, by using hearing aids.
  • Cardiovascular disease: on occasion hearing loss has nothing to do with cardiovascular conditions. In other situations, cardiovascular problems can make you more subject to hearing loss. That’s because one of the initial signs of cardiovascular disease is trauma to the blood vessels of the inner ear. Your hearing may suffer as a result of the of that trauma.
  • Diabetes: similarly, your whole nervous system can be negatively influenced by diabetes (particularly in your extremities). one of the areas especially likely to be harmed are the nerves in the ear. Hearing loss can be wholly caused by this damage. But diabetes-related nerve damage can also make you more vulnerable to hearing loss caused by other factors, often compounding your symptoms.
  • Depression: a whole range of issues can be caused by social isolation due to hearing loss, some of which relate to your mental health. So it’s not surprising that study after study confirms anxiety and depression have very high comorbidity rates with hearing loss.

Is There Anything That Can be Done?

It can seem a bit frightening when you add all those health conditions together. But it’s important to keep one thing in mind: treating your hearing loss can have huge positive influences. While scientists and researchers don’t really know, for example, why hearing loss and dementia show up together so often, they do know that dealing with hearing loss can dramatically lower your dementia risks.

So regardless of what your comorbid condition might be, the best course of action is to have your hearing examined.

Part of an Ecosystem

This is why health care specialists are rethinking the importance of how to treat hearing loss. Instead of being a rather limited and targeted area of concern, your ears are seen as closely connected to your overall wellbeing. In a nutshell, we’re beginning to perceive the body more like an interconnected ecosystem. Hearing loss isn’t always an isolated situation. So it’s more significant than ever that we pay attention to the totality, not to the proverbial pond or the birds in isolation, but to your health as a whole.

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