Comorbidities of hearing loss and the implications of multimorbidity for audiological care

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Abstract

With increasing age, the risk of developing chronic health conditions also increases, and many older people suffer from multiple co-existing health conditions, i.e., multimorbidity. One common health condition at older age is hearing loss (HL). The current article reflects on the implications for audiological care, when HL is one of several health conditions in a multimorbidity. An overview of health conditions often co-existing with HL, so called comorbidities, is provided, including indications for the strength of the associations. The overview is based on a literature study examining cohort studies that were published in the years 2010–2018 and examined associations of hearing loss with other health conditions, namely Visual impairment, Mobility restrictions, Cognitive impairment, Psychosocial health problems, Diabetes, Cardiovascular diseases, Stroke, Arthritis, and Cancer. This selection was based on previous publications on common chronic health conditions at older age and comorbidities of hearing loss. For all of these health conditions, it was found that prevalence is larger in people with a HL and several longitudinal studies also found increased incident rates in people with a HL. The examined publications provide little information on how hearing loss should be managed in the clinical care of its comorbidities and vice versa. The current article discusses several options for adaptations of current care. Nonetheless, solutions for an integrated audiology care model targeting HL in a multimorbidity are still lacking and should be subject to future research.

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