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

Your body and an ecosystem have some similarities. In nature, all of the birds and fish will be affected if something happens to the pond; and all of the plants and animals that rely on the birds will disappear if the birds disappear. The human body, commonly unbeknownst to us, works on very similar methods of interconnectedness. That’s the reason why something that seems isolated, such as hearing loss, can be linked to a wide variety of other diseases and ailments.

This is, in a sense, proof of the interdependence of your body and it’s similarity to an ecosystem. When something affects your hearing, it might also influence your brain. We call these situations comorbid, a term that is specialized and signifies when two ailments have an affect on each other but don’t necessarily have a cause and effect relationship.

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

Conditions Associated With Hearing Loss

So, let’s suppose that you’ve been noticing the signs of hearing loss for the past few months. You’ve been having a hard time hearing conversation when you go out for a bite. You’ve been cranking up the volume on your television. And some sounds just feel a little further away. It would be a smart choice at this point to make an appointment with a hearing specialist.

Whether you recognize it or not, your hearing loss is linked to a number of other health issues. Comorbidity with hearing loss has been reported with the following health problems.

  • Depression: a whole range of concerns can be caused by social isolation due to hearing loss, some of which are related to your mental health. So it’s no surprise that study after study confirms depression and anxiety have very high comorbidity rates with hearing loss.
  • Vertigo and falls: your inner ear is your main tool for balance. Vertigo and dizziness can be created by some types of hearing loss because they have a negative influence on the inner ear. Falls are more and more dangerous as you get older and falls can happen whenever there is a loss of balance
  • Diabetes: similarly, your whole nervous system can be negatively influenced by diabetes (specifically in your extremities). the nerves in the ear are particularly likely to be affected. This damage can cause loss of hearing by itself. But your symptoms can be multiplied because diabetes related nerve damage can make you more susceptible to hearing loss from other factors.
  • Dementia: a higher risk of dementia has been associated with hearing loss, although the underlying cause of that relationship is not clear. Research reveals that using a hearing aid can help slow cognitive decline and decrease a lot of these dementia risks.
  • Cardiovascular disease: hearing loss and cardiovascular conditions aren’t always linked. But sometimes hearing loss can be aggravated by cardiovascular disease. The explanation for this is that trauma to the blood vessels of the inner ear is one of the first symptoms of cardiovascular disease. Your hearing may suffer as a result of the of that trauma.

What’s The Solution?

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

So the best course of action, no matter what comorbid condition you may be concerned about, is to get your hearing tested.

Part of an Ecosystem

That’s why more health care professionals are looking at hearing health with fresh eyes. Your ears are being considered as a part of your overall health profile rather than being a targeted and limited issue. In other words, we’re starting to perceive the body more like an interconnected ecosystem. Hearing loss doesn’t necessarily happen in isolation. So it’s more significant 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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