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Hearing Blog

What is comorbidity?

July 26, 2021

Comorbidity.  What is it?  It is the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases at the same time.  For example, people with bipolar disorder are very likely to also have heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and to be smokers.  Kind of like “when it rains, it pours.

Comorbidity.  Do you walk through your day kind of in a fog?   Do the lines just run together?  Do you wonder what you could do today but then just don’t want to do anything?  Are you depressed?  Many things can lead to depression.  You may find yourself without your spouse after 40 plus years of marriage.  Maybe you have lost a child which is just not supposed to happen.  Perhaps you or someone you love have health issues and it is wearing you down.  The list goes on and on...

Think of how one medication leads to another and then that must be adjusted to work with others.  All the medicines are important to keep you in your best health.  Hearing is one of our most important senses. When a person has a hearing loss other disease are often present.  People who have diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing loss than someone who doesn’t have diabetes.   The reason for this is that high glucose levels can lead to damage to the tiny vessels that carry blood throughout the body.  Ménière’s disease is a buildup fluid in the inner ear and may lead to dizziness, ringing in the ear, and hearing loss... again... “Comorbidity.” 

Falling is directly related to our hearing.  You could have just a slight hearing loss and your chance of falling increases 3 times.  For every 10 decibels of hearing loss that risk of falling increases 140 percent. (conversational speech is 60db).  So, if you are having a problem understanding speech then your chance of falling maybe 3 times as much as someone with corrected or normal hearing loss.  The risk of falling is actually worse for men with hearing loss.      

A study by Johns Hopkins in 2002 and followed until 2009 involved 5000 people compared different comorbidities as related to mortality.   The results were that people with hearing loss had a higher death rate from cardiovascular disease than the participants who did not have hearing loss.  Patients who have a low frequency or reverse slope hearing loss are at an increased risk of stroke.  80% of patients in the study who had strokes also had a low frequency or flat type of hearing loss.  These results involved great intricacies, what is important is to note the correlation of more than one chronic disease.   Hearing evaluations reveal helpful medical information that can be forwarded to your primary care physician, thus enabling a more comprehensive approach to your health.

Do you have problems with your memory?  Does it seem like you are struggling more with details?  Are you stressing out of little things?  First, you cannot remember what you did not hear or understand.  The average person with a hearing loss works 2 - 3 times harder throughout the day to carry on meaningful conversations.  Unfortunately, as hard as you try…if you did not hear the information correctly you will not remember all of it.

If the communication is too difficult than most people will just dismiss the details as though they never were said.  Thus, “You never told me that” is a common denominator in such situations.  It is well known that untreated hearing loss leads to cognitive decline.  The loneliness that is brought on by hearing loss kicks in depression and dementia and Alzheimer’s thus join the scene.   In our country, the prevalence of hearing loss breaks down like this:  ages 25-69... 27% have hearing loss.  Ages 70-79... 55% of you have hearing loss!  Ages 80 and up... a whopping 79% have treatable hearing loss.  This information provides us a starting block for better health.   Our hearing is associated with other physical and emotional health conditions.  When you address your hearing needs you are taking the first step towards better health.   Everyone over the age of 50 should have a hearing test annually.   Don’t let the best years of your life slip by you.  To Hear Better Is To Live Better!!


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