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