8 Ailments Related to Hearing Loss

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Hearing loss can affect your life in more serious ways than simply needing to turn up the volume on the TV. There are multiple conditions and ailments that are associated with untreated hearing loss. 

Anxiety and Depression

A survey of 2300 Americans with hearing impairment over the age of 50 found conclusively that those people who didn’t wear hearing aids were more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and paranoia. Those who wore hearing aids did not have the same connection between their hearing loss and depression. 

Hospitalization

Older adults with untreated hearing loss are 32% more likely to be hospitalized than those who wear hearing aids, or who have no hearing impairment.

Diabetes

High levels of blood sugar can damage the blood vessels in the ear, leading to hearing loss. This is why hearing loss is twice as common in people who have diabetes than in people who don’t. Hearing loss in diabetic patients can gradually worsen over time, so it may not be caught with the original diabetes diagnosis. Annual hearing tests with an experienced audiologist are crucial for diabetic patients.

Cardiovascular Disease

Research has found a significant link between low-frequency hearing loss and various forms of cardiovascular disease including stroke, coronary artery disease and heart attacks. Research has also found that poor cardiovascular health had negative impacts on hearing, and that as cardiovascular health improved, hearing also improved – particularly in older patients.

Tinnitus

90% of people who have tinnitus (ringing in the ears) also suffer from hearing loss. As hearing aids improve your hearing, they also help to mask some of the tinnitus, and hearing aids are often the first course of treatment for someone with tinnitus.

Loneliness and Isolation

A National Council on Aging study found that those seniors with hearing loss who didn’t wear hearing aids reported feeling sad and lonely more than those who wore hearing aids. Seniors with untreated hearing loss felt like people were more likely to get angry with them for no reason, and they suffered from much higher levels of insecurity and isolation. Hearing aids help alleviate this turmoil, because they keep you included in the conversations and interactions around you.

Kidney Disease

Research has shown that kidney disease is linked to a 43% increased risk of hearing loss. According to a report in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, the link between hearing loss and kidney disease “can be explained by structural and functional similarities between tissues in the inner ear and in the kidney. Additionally, toxins that accumulate in kidney failure can damage nerves, including those in the inner ear."

Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Those who suffer from untreated hearing loss have a five times greater risk of developing dementia than those who wear hearing aids. Hearing loss is associated with a faster decline in cognitive functioning in older adults. Even untreated mild hearing loss causes the brain to work so differently to listen to sounds in the environment that brain resources are diverted away from deeper comprehension and memory.