Woman with diabetes thinking about hearing loss.

Studies indicate that people who have diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from hearing loss, according to the American Diabetes Association. This statistic is surprising for those who think of hearing loss as a problem associated with growing old or noise damage. In 2010, 1.9 million people were diagnosed with diabetes and almost 500,000 of them were under the age of 44. Evidence shows that 250,000 of those younger people who have the disease probably suffer from some form on hearing loss.

A person’s hearing can be damaged by several diseases besides diabetes. Other than the apparent factor of aging, what is the relationship between these conditions and hearing loss? Consider some illnesses that can lead to loss of hearing.

Diabetes

What the link is between diabetes and hearing loss is unclear but clinical research appears to suggest there is one. 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.

Even though there are some theories, scientists still don’t understand why this happens. It is possible that high glucose levels could cause damage to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear. That’s a reasonable assumption since diabetes is known to affect circulation.

Meningitis

Hearing loss 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 will lose their hearing in part or in full if they get this condition. Among the American youth, this infection is the second leading cause of hearing loss.

Meningitis has the potential to injure the delicate nerves that permit the inner ear to forward signals to the brain. The brain has no method to interpret sound if it doesn’t get these signals.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term that relates to conditions that involve the heart or blood vessels. This category contains these common diseases:

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

Normally, cardiovascular diseases have a tendency to be linked to age-related hearing loss. Damage can easily happen to the inner ear. Injury to the inner ear causes hearing loss when there is a change in blood flow and it doesn’t get the oxygen and nutrients that it needs to thrive.

Chronic Kidney Disease

A 2012 study published in The Laryngoscope found that people have an increased risk of losing their hearing if they have this condition. 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 many of the same risk factors with kidney disease and other conditions connected with high blood pressure.

Toxins that collect in the blood as a result of kidney failure might also be to blame, theoretically. The connection that the nerves have with the brain may be closed off because of damage to the ear by these toxins.

Dementia

The connection between loss of hearing and dementia is a two-way street. A person’s chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease seems to be increased by cognitive impairment. Brain shrinkage and atrophy are the causes of dementia. That process is accelerated by hearing loss.

The flip side of the coin is true, as well. As damage to the brain increases a person who has dementia will show a decline in their hearing even though their hearing is normal.

Mumps

Mumps is a viral infection that can cause children to lose their hearing when they’re very young. Hearing loss may impact both ears or only one side. The reason why this occurs is the virus damages the cochlea in the inner ear. Messages are sent to the brain by this part of the ear. The good thing is mumps is pretty rare these days due to vaccinations. Not everyone who gets the mumps will experience hearing loss.

Chronic Ear Infections

Treatment clears up the random ear infection so it’s not much of a risk for the majority of people. However, the tiny bones of the inner ear or the eardrum can be seriously damaged by constantly recurring ear infections. This kind of hearing loss is known as conductive, and it means that sound cannot get to the inner ear with enough energy, so no messages are transmitted to the brain. Sensorineural hearing loss or nerve damage can also be caused by infections.

Many of the diseases that can cause hearing loss can be avoided by prevention. Throughout your life protecting your hearing will be achievable if you exercise regularly, get the right amount of sleep, and have a healthy diet. You should also get regular hearing exams to make sure your ears stay healthy.

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