What Are Comorbidities?

Hearing loss has been linked in recent years to numerous other chronic conditions. This sort of link — two chronic conditions occurring simultaneously in the same person — is known as a comorbidity. As an example, someone with insomnia who also has depression has insomnia comorbid with depression.

Comorbidities are important to be aware of because hearing loss can be a sign of a comorbid condition or can increase risk of a comorbid condition. For example, hearing loss can be a symptom of heart problems. If your heart isn’t pumping blood adequately, that blood can’t nourish the hair cells in your inner ear, which are critical to hearing. As your hair cells become malnourished they become damaged, and hearing loss begins.


What Are Some Common Hearing Loss Comorbidities?


Cardiovascular Disease Comorbidity Icon

Cardiovascular Disease

As already mentioned, poor blood flow means unhealthy hearing cells, which means unhealthy hearing.

Diabetes Comorbidity Icon


There is a strong correlation between diabetes and hearing loss. One meta-analysis found that hearing loss was twice as prevalent in those with diabetes compared to those without.

Depression Comorbidity Icon


Depression and hearing loss also have a strong link. In fact, studies show the greater the untreated hearing loss, the more likely the chance of depression.

Cognitive Decline and Dementia Comorbidity

Cognitive Decline and Dementia

This comorbidity has been heavily studied, and the results are well supported: those with untreated hearing loss have a higher risk of cognitive decline and dementia than those with healthy hearing, and the greater the hearing loss, the greater the risk.

What Next?

The critical takeaway is that hearing loss is one piece of your health puzzle. Your hearing loss might or might not have a comorbidity.

Cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Hearing loss could be a symptom of another condition — but not necessarily. Knowing about these types of comorbidities allows you to be proactive in bringing them up at your next hearing health care appointment.

Depression, cognitive decline, and dementia. Hearing loss has been shown to indicate a risk for these conditions. That means if you suspect you have a hearing loss, getting it treated now significantly reduces your risk of developing these conditions later. Furthermore, if you already experience depression, cognitive decline, or dementia, it’s not too late to get the benefits of treating hearing loss: Hearing aids have been shown to have a positive effect on both cognition and depression.