Hearing Loss and Associated Comorbidities

Did you know that hearing loss can often lead to other disorders? It’s not new news, but it might come as a surprise to many. The presence of additional diseases or disorders caused by a primary affliction are known in the medical community as comorbidities.

The Hearing Review wrote a long article on the topic.

“In only the last dozen years, many 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.”

Hearing loss by itself can lead to these other disorders. Untreated hearing loss can lead to even more.

A common disorder that often stems from hearing loss is depression. Hearing loss – sudden or progressive – often has an insulating effect and can cause people to isolate themselves from friends and social activities. We’ve written about the importance of socialization before, but we really haven’t talked about the very real problem of depression at its core.

Not exercising your brain (socializing, talking to people, relearning how to comprehend speech in noise), can very well lead to seclusion, which is a well-known cause of depressive feelings and anxieties. If you shut yourself off, you’re potentially rewiring your brain towards that path.

This depression, though, can often be treated with proper management of hearing loss (the underlying issue). ASHA, referring to a widely cited nationwide study, says: “nearly 4,000 adults with hearing loss and their significant others showed significantly higher rates of depression, anxiety, and other psychosocial disorders in individuals with hearing loss who were not wearing hearing aids.” Hearing aids, at least in part, can help many people with their depression.

This is just one example. The problems can extend well beyond the psychological, as the Hearing Review notes above. Please check out their article – they outline many major hearing loss-related disorders. Audiology Online also has a great interview about what it means to consider and treat hearing loss-related disorders alongside hearing loss itself.

In short, outside of helping you hear, the diagnosis-treatment-management of hearing loss can help your health in other ways. It’s a prevention, as well as quality of life, process.