Woman with diabetes thinking about hearing loss.

Studies reveal that you are twice as likely to struggle with hearing loss if you have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. This fact is unexpected for those who think of hearing loss as a problem associated with getting old or noise trauma. In 2010, 1.9 million people were diagnosed with diabetes and close to 500,000 of them were below the age of 44. Evidence reveals that 250,000 of those younger people with the disease probably have some form on hearing loss.

The thing is that diabetes is only one of several illnesses that can cost a person their hearing. Other than the obvious aspect of the aging process, what is the relationship between these illnesses and hearing loss? Give some thought to some conditions that can lead to loss of hearing.

Diabetes

It is not clear why people with diabetes have a higher occurrence of hearing loss or even if diabetes is connected to hearing loss, but the clinical research does point in that direction. People who have prediabetes, a condition that indicates they might develop type 2 diabetes, tend to lose their hearing 30 percent faster than those with normal blood sugar levels.

While researchers don’t have a definitive answer as to why this occurs, there are some theories. It is feasible that high glucose levels could cause damage to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear. Diabetes is known to impact circulation, so that is a realistic assumption.

Meningitis

Loss of hearing is a symptom of this infectious disease. Because of infection, the membranes that cover the spine and brain swell up and that defines meningitis. Studies show that 30 percent of people who develop this condition will also lose their hearing, either in part or in full. Among young people in America, this infection is the second leading cause of hearing loss.

The fragile nerves that relay signals to the inner ear are potentially damaged by meningitis. The brain has no means to interpret sound if it doesn’t get these signals.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term that relates to conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels. Some typical diseases in this category include:

  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Atherosclerosis

Normally, cardiovascular diseases tend to be associated with age-related hearing loss. The inner ear is vulnerable to injury. When there is a change in blood flow, it might not get the oxygen and nutrients it needs to thrive, and damage to the inner ear then leads to loss of hearing.

Chronic Kidney Disease

A 2012 study published in The Laryngoscope found that people with this condition also had an increased risk of hearing loss. A separate study found that chance to be as high as 43 percent. It is feasible that this connection is a coincidence, though. There are lots of the same risk factors with kidney disease and other conditions connected with high blood pressure.

Toxins that accumulate in the blood due to kidney failure might also be to blame, theoretically. The connection that the nerves have with the brain may be closed off due to damage to the ear by these toxins.

Dementia

Dementia and hearing loss have a two way effect on each other. There is some evidence that cognitive deterioration increases a person’s risk of getting conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia comes about because of brain atrophy and shrinkage. That process is accelerated by hearing loss.

It also works the other way around. Somebody who develops dementia even though there is normal hearing will show a decline in their hearing as damage to the brain increases.

Mumps

Mumps is a viral infection that can cause children to lose their hearing early in life. Hearing loss might affect both ears or only one side. The reason why this happens is the virus damages the cochlea in the inner ear. Signals are sent to the brain by this part of the ear. The positive thing is, due to vaccination mumps are relatively rare at present. Not everyone will experience hearing loss if they get the mumps.

Chronic Ear Infections

Treatment gets rid of the occasional ear infection so it’s not much of a risk for the majority of people. For some, however, repeated infections take a toll on the tiny components that are necessary for hearing like the eardrum or the small bones in the middle ear. This form of hearing loss is called conductive, and it means that sound cannot get to the inner ear with enough energy, so no signals are sent to the brain. Sensorineural hearing loss or nerve damage can also be caused by infections.

Prevention is the key to avoiding many of the diseases that can cause you to lose hearing. A healthy diet, plenty of exercise and regular sleep habits really help with protecting your ear health throughout your life. You should also get regular hearing exams to make sure your ears stay healthy.

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