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 be affected if something goes wrong with the pond; and all of the plants and animals that depend on the birds will disappear if the birds disappear. The human body, frequently unbeknownst to us, operates on very similar principles of interconnection. That’s why a wide variety of afflictions can be connected to something that at first appears so isolated like hearing loss.

This is, in a way, proof of the interdependence of your body and it’s similarity to an ecosystem. Your brain might also be affected if something affects your hearing. These conditions are identified as comorbid, a fancy (and specialized) term that demonstrates a link between two conditions without necessarily articulating a cause-and-effect connection.

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

Diseases Associated With Hearing Loss

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

Whether you’re aware of it or not, your hearing loss is connected to numerous other health issues. Some of the health conditions that have reported comorbidity with hearing loss include:

  • Dementia: neglected hearing loss has been connected to a higher risk of dementia, although the underlying cause of that relationship is not clear. Research suggests that using a hearing aid can help slow down cognitive decline and lower many of these dementia risks.
  • Vertigo and falls: your principal tool for balance is your inner ear. There are some forms of hearing loss that can play havoc with your inner ear, leading to dizziness and vertigo. Any loss of balance can, of course, cause falls, and as you get older, falls can become significantly more dangerous.
  • Cardiovascular disease: hearing loss and cardiovascular conditions are not always interconnected. In other situations, cardiovascular issues can make you more vulnerable to hearing loss. The reason for this is that trauma to the blood vessels of the inner ear is one of the first symptoms of cardiovascular disease. Your hearing could suffer as a result of the of that trauma.
  • Diabetes: likewise, your whole nervous system can be influenced in a negative way by diabetes (specifically in your extremities). the nerves in the ear are especially likely to be damaged. This damage can cause hearing loss by itself. But your symptoms can be multiplied because diabetes related nerve damage can cause you to be more prone to hearing loss caused by other factors.
  • Depression: a whole range of problems can be the result of social isolation due to hearing loss, some of which relate to your mental health. So it’s no surprise that study after study confirms anxiety and depression have extremely high comorbidity rates with hearing loss.

What Can You Do?

It can seem a bit intimidating when you add all those health conditions together. But it’s important to remember one thing: enormous positive impact can be gained by treating your hearing loss. Scientists and researchers know that if hearing loss is addressed, the chance of dementia substantially lowers even though they don’t really understand precisely why dementia and hearing loss manifest together to begin with.

So no matter what your comorbid condition might be, the best course of action is to have your hearing examined.

Part of an Ecosystem

That’s why more medical specialists are looking at hearing health with fresh eyes. Instead of being a rather limited and specific area of concern, your ears are viewed as closely connected to your overall wellbeing. In a nutshell, we’re beginning to perceive the body more like an interrelated ecosystem. Hearing loss isn’t always an isolated scenario. 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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