Woman with diabetes thinking about hearing loss.

Studies reveal that you are twice as likely to suffer from hearing loss if you have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. If you are someone that associates hearing loss with aging or noise trauma, this might surprise you. 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 probably suffer from some form on hearing loss.

A person’s hearing can be damaged by several diseases besides diabetes. Other than the obvious aspect of aging, what is the link between these diseases and hearing loss? Give some thought to some illnesses that can lead to loss of hearing.

Diabetes

It is uncertain why people who have 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 with prediabetes, a condition that implies they may 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 takes place, there are some theories. It is possible 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 affect circulation.

Meningitis

This infectious disease causes hearing loss. Meningitis by definition is inflammation of the membranes that cover the spinal cord and brain, normally due to infection. 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 which send signals to the inner ear are potentially injured by meningitis. The brain has no means to interpret sound without these signals.

Cardiovascular Disease

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

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

Age related hearing loss is usually associated with cardiovascular diseases. Damage can easily happen to the inner ear. Damage to the inner ear causes hearing loss when there is a change in blood flow and it doesn’t receive 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. However, this connection might be a coincidence. Kidney disease and other ailments associated with high blood pressure or diabetes have lots of the same risk factors.

Another hypothesis is that the toxins that build up in the blood due to kidney failure may be the cause. 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 the indication that cognitive deterioration increases a person’s risk of getting conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia comes about due to brain atrophy and shrinkage. That process is accelerated by hearing loss.

It also works the other way around. As damage to the brain increases someone who has dementia will show a decline in their hearing even though their hearing is normal.

Mumps

Early in life the viral infection mumps can cause children to lose their hearing. The reduction in hearing could be only on one side or it may affect both ears. 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 good thing is mumps is pretty scarce these days due to vaccinations. Not everyone who has the mumps will suffer from hearing loss.

Chronic Ear Infections

For most individuals, the occasional ear infection is not very risky as treatment gets rid of it. For some, though, infection after infection can wear out the tiny pieces that are necessary for hearing such as the eardrum or the small bones in the middle ear. This kind of hearing loss is called conductive, and it means that sound cannot reach 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 steering clear of many of the illnesses that can cause you to lose hearing. 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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