Let’s Earsip with Dr. Clarke – Part 2

Hearing loss and Comorbidities

Researchers have shone a light on many comorbidities and their relation to hearing loss. Let’s define comorbidities…Comorbidity is when a patient has 2 or more chronic illnesses at the same time. An illness is called chronic when it lasts for more than 3 months. Fun fact: hearing loss is a chronic illness. Some of the comorbid illnesses, along with their link to hearing loss, that have been researched include dementia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, social isolation and loneliness, balance and falls, and cancer.

Hearing loss affects 15% of people 18 years and older in the United States. People with hearing loss experience a reduction in speech understanding, which can lead to depression, social withdrawal and isolation, decline in cognitive ability, and a reduction in the quality of life.

Comorbidities and hearing loss

  • Dementia- as the severity of hearing loss increase, dementia increased.
  • Diabetes- increase in vascular issues in patients with diabetes, increase the prevalence of hearing loss in those patients. Fun fact: The cochlea is the organ of hearing and damage to its blood supply can result in a sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Cardiovascular disease- there is a correlation between low-frequency hearing loss and patients with or at risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Depression- the risk of depression increased in patients with hearing loss. Fun fact: women with moderate hearing loss were affected the most.
  • Social withdrawal and isolation- is a symptom of hearing loss. Fun fact: isolation is reported more in younger adults than older adults between the ages of 50-94.
  • Falls- occurs more in older patients with hearing loss than with normal hearing. Fun fact: the leading cause of non-fatal and fatal injuries in older patients is falling.
  • Cancer- Cisplatin used to treat cancer can cause hearing loss. Fun fact: a baseline hearing test, as well as testing throughout treatment, is recommended to monitor the effects of the medication.

Patients with hearing loss along with other chronic illnesses should accurately complete and update medical history forms for proper care. Referrals between healthcare professions such as primary care, psychologists, and neuropsychologists are key to managing patients with comorbidities.

Abrams, H. (2017, September 11). 20Q: Hearing Loss and Its Comorbidities Harvey Abrams. Retrieved April 15, 2020, from https://www.audiologyonline.com/articles/20q-hearing-loss-comorbidities-21217
Hearing Loss Comorbidities: Adults. (n.d.). Retrieved April 15, 2020, from https://audiology.org/sites/default/files/getInvolved/pa/documents/PAWeek18 – Infographic 2 – Adult-Fillable.pdf
Kim, S. (2017, November 30). Hearing Loss and Associated Comorbidities: What Do We Know? -… Retrieved April 15, 2020, from https://www.hearingreview.com/hearing-loss/hearing-loshttps://www.hearingreview.com/hearing-loss/hearing-loss-prevention/risk-factors/hearing-loss-associated-comorbidities-knows-prevention/risk-factors/hearing-loss-associated-comorbidities-know