When hearing loss starts to surface, it can be devastating, forever changing the way a person interacts with the world around them. Often, hearing loss may be a symptom or outcome of other, more serious health issues known as comorbidities. Comorbidities is a common medical term referring to one or more diseases or conditions that occur along with another condition in the same person simultaneously.
Conditions considered comorbidities are often long-term or chronic conditions. The comorbidities of hearing loss range from physical disorders to mental conditions, and worsening hearing can be the first sign of these other health issues. Important studies have surfaced linking hearing loss to disabling conditions, such as cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, clinical depression, diabetes, falls among the elderly, heart disease, and many more.
Strokes, heart attacks, and coronary artery disease are all outcomes of poor cardiovascular health. One of the first signs of cardiovascular disease is blood vessel trauma to the inner ear, which damages your fragile hearing nerves and causes hearing loss. Your heart is responsible for pumping blood and bringing oxygen and other nutrients throughout your body. With cardiovascular disease, such as a buildup of plaque in the arteries, the heart has to work much harder to do this. As a result, the fragile system of your inner ear does not get the nourishment they need to work properly. Without good blood flow to bring needed oxygen, these fragile cells and nerves can become damaged or destroyed, leading to permanent hearing loss.
Individuals with diabetes are found to be twice as likely to have hearing loss than those without the condition. It’s known that high blood sugar can damage blood vessels throughout the body, including your ears. If you’ve had diabetes for a long time and it isn’t controlled and monitored, there could be damage to the vast network of small blood vessels in your ears. Another complication of diabetes is nerve damage. It’s possible that damage to the auditory nerves could lead to hearing loss.
The thyroid produces hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism, and any disorder of the thyroid can affect other parts of the body, such as energy level, heart-rate, and hearing. Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism have been linked to hearing loss. Research into why is ongoing, but the following thyroid conditions are known to affect hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance. On the other hand, studies have shown that patients who undergo radiation therapy for cancer in the head or neck, such as thyroid cancer, appear more likely to experience hearing loss.
Individuals with moderate to severe hearing loss are up to 5 times as likely to develop dementia. According to several major studies, older adults with hearing loss are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, compared to those with normal hearing. Patients with hearing loss were 69 percent more likely to develop dementia than those with no hearing impairment. Studies suggest that hearing loss causes brain changes that raise the risk for dementia. Scientist have found that the brain has to work extra hard to decipher the words and sounds around them. Studies have shown that the brains of people with hearing loss shrink—or atrophy—more quickly than the brains of people with normal hearing.
Isolation and Depression
Many people with hearing loss also struggle with anxiety, social isolation, depression and other mental health concerns. Because hearing loss is a condition that affects your life every day, it can have a serious impact on your well-being. Many individuals with hearing loss experience social isolation, whether they realize it or not. For those with hearing loss, large groups, noisy venues and dark environments can make it even more difficult to hear, engage in conversation and contribute to social situations. Untreated hearing loss can affect an individual’s daily life and lead to depression, a serious mental health issue affecting 15 million American adults.
Gulf Gate Hearing Aid Center
With so many risks involved with untreated hearing loss don’t put your well-being at risk any longer. Contact us at Gulf Gate Hearing Aid Center to schedule a hearing test today so we can help you focus on the important stuff – your health and happiness!