The third most common health issue in the U.S may surprise you – it's hearing loss. Most people try to ignore hearing loss as it occurs and that's why so many live with untreated hearing loss. It's an invisible condition, and this means that it gets left unapproached for so many people and this can lead to negative consequences that are unexpected.

Your health and general wellbeing can be affected by hearing loss, especially when it's not treated properly. As with most medical conditions, hearing loss often has comorbidities alongside it. A comorbidity is a term that describes the presence of two chronic diseases or the presence of two or more disorders that occur with a primary disorder. There are some comorbidities of hearing loss of which you should be aware.

Your audiologists will be able to tell you whether you are at risk of any of these comorbidities based on the extent of your hearing loss. Some can occur as a result of your hearing loss but others are linked to hearing loss and can even be a cause of it. Let's take a close look at comorbidities of hearing loss.

Heart disease

This tops the list of the most common medical conditions in the world. Hearing loss is third, and believe it or not, hearing loss is linked to heart disease, as blood flow is crucial to the auditory process. Parts of the inner ear receive sound waves and translate these to signals in the brain.

These are processed in the auditory cortex of the brain and as the inner ear is so sophisticated, the hair cells require adequate blood flow. When experiencing heart disease, blood flow is compromised and issues with your heart could influence the blood flow here. This then has adverse effects on your ability to hear properly.

Accidents and trips

We require our hearing to be working in some capacity to be able to balance properly. Our vestibular system functions with the auditory system and the fluid in the inner ear help us to maintain a good sense of balance in relation to gravity. These fluids need to be equal or you can experience vertigo. We are better able to locate our position in our environment when we can better process sound in our auditory systems.

When you leave your hearing loss as untreated, your spatial reasoning can experience negatively, and this also affects your balance. When your balance is compromised, you are at an increased risk of falls, trips and spills. There are studies that show there is a link between falls and untreated hearing loss, and for every 10dB of hearing loss, the risk of falling goes up by one.

Dementia

We talked about cognitive effects of hearing loss, and dementia is one of them. Untreated, dementia is linked to your hearing loss and your risk of developing dementia rises significantly. When your brain cannot handle the sound signals, there is a heavier cognitive load and this process tires out the brain.

There have been studies to show that when you don't get your hearing loss treated, your brain no longer uses that area of the brain, which effectively stops working as a result. Hearing aids can help you to boost those cognitive abilities of yours and decrease your dementia risk as a result.

Poor mental health

Depression is one of the most prevalent reasons for suicide around the world, and hearing loss that has been left untreated can affect your mood as well as your ability to hold relationships with other people. Channels of communication in the brain can break down and lead you to be more isolated, which leads to depression.

When you are isolated like this you are left with little to no social skills as your brain essentially forgets how to relate to other people. When you treat your hearing loss with hearing aids prescribed by your audiologist, you will be able to keep your friendships going and this is important for your health and happiness.

Getting the right help

Hearing loss may be common, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't get it treated right away if you notice some differences in your hearing experience. It can affect people of all ages and all backgrounds and you should seek help the moment you notice hearing loss.

An audiologist at Pacific Audiology Clinic will be able to walk you through the hearing tests and help that you can get with your hearing loss – specifically after tests are performed. Hearing loss may be an invisible condition, but you don't have to fade into the background and cope alone. Call us at 503-719-4208 today!