Woman with diabetes thinking about hearing loss.

Studies show that you are twice as likely to have hearing loss if you have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. This statistic is surprising for those who view hearing loss as a problem associated with aging or noise trauma. Almost 500,000 of the1.9 million people diagnosed with diabetes in 2010 were below the age of 44. Evidence reveals that 250,000 of those younger people who have the disease likely have some form on hearing loss.

The main point is that diabetes is only one in many conditions which can cost a person their hearing. Growing old is a major aspect both in disease and loss of hearing but what is the connection between these disorders and ear health? These diseases that cause loss of hearing should be taken into consideration.

Diabetes

What the connection is between diabetes and hearing loss is unclear but clinical research appears to indicate there is one. A condition that suggests a person could develop type 2 diabetes, called prediabetes, causes people to lose their hearing 30 percent faster than people who don’t have it.

Even though there are some theories, researchers still don’t know why this happens. It is feasible that high glucose levels might cause damage to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear. That’s a realistic assumption since diabetes is known to influence circulation.

Meningitis

This infectious disease causes hearing loss. Because of infection, the membranes that cover the spine and brain become inflamed and that defines meningitis. Studies show that 30 percent of people who have this condition will also lose their hearing, either in part or in full. Among the American youth, this infection is the second leading cause of hearing loss.

The delicate nerves that relay signals to the inner ear are potentially damaged by meningitis. Without these signals, the brain has no means of interpreting sound.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term that covers conditions that involve the heart or blood vessels. Some common diseases in this category include:

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

Normally, cardiovascular diseases tend to be linked to age-related hearing loss. Injury can easily happen to the inner ear. When there is an alteration of the blood flow, it might not get the oxygen and nutrients it needs to thrive, and damage to the inner ear then leads to hearing loss.

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 relationship is a coincidence, though. Kidney disease and other conditions associated with high blood pressure or diabetes have many of the same risk factors.

Another possibility is that the toxins that collect in the blood as a result of kidney failure might be the cause. These toxins may damage the nerves in the inner ear, closing the connection it has with the brain.

Dementia

The link between loss of hearing and dementia is a two-way street. A person’s risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease appears to be increased by cognitive deterioration. Brain shrinkage and atrophy are the causes of dementia. Difficulty hearing can hasten that process.

The flip side of the coin is true, also. A person who develops dementia even though there is normal hearing will show a decline in their hearing as injury to the brain increases.

Mumps

Mumps is a viral infection which can cause children to lose their hearing early in life. Loss of hearing may affect both ears or only one side. The reason that this happens is that the cochlea of the inner ear is damaged by the virus. It’s the part of the ear that sends messages to the brain. The positive thing is, due to vaccination mumps are relatively rare nowadays. Not everyone who has the mumps will suffer from hearing loss.

Chronic Ear Infections

Treatment clears up the occasional ear infection so it’s not much of a risk for the majority of people. However, the little 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 force, so no messages 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 illnesses that can cause you to lose hearing. A healthy diet, plenty of exercise and regular sleep habits will go a long way to 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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