HEARING TIPS

Diabetes & Other Health Conditions That Can Cause Hearing Loss

Woman with diabetes thinking about hearing loss.

Studies indicate that people who have diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing loss, according to the American Diabetes Association. This statistic is unexpected for those who think of hearing loss as a problem associated with growing old or noise damage. Almost 500,000 of the1.9 million people diagnosed with diabetes in 2010 were under the age of 44. Some form of hearing loss probably affects at least 250,000 of the younger people who have this disease.

A person’s hearing can be impaired by several diseases other than diabetes. Besides the apparent aspect of aging, what is the relationship between these conditions and hearing loss? Give some thought to some illnesses that can lead to loss of hearing.

Diabetes

What the link is between diabetes and hearing loss is not clear but clinical research seems to suggest there is one. A condition that suggests a person might develop type 2 diabetes, called prediabetes, causes people to lose their hearing 30 percent faster than people who don’t have it.

While scientists don’t have a conclusive answer as to why this takes place, there are some theories. It is possible that harm to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear might be triggered by high glucose levels. 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 young people in America, this infection is the second leading cause of hearing loss.

The delicate nerves which relay signals to the inner ear are potentially injured by meningitis. Without these signals, the brain has no method of interpreting sound.

Cardiovascular Disease

Conditions that impact the heart or blood vessels are covered under the umbrella term “cardiovascular disease”. Some common diseases in this category include:

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

Age related hearing loss is commonly linked to cardiovascular diseases. The inner ear is subject to injury. When there is a change in blood flow, it might not get the oxygen and nutrients it needs to thrive, and injury 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 ailments involving high blood pressure or diabetes have many of the same risk factors.

Toxins that build up in the blood due to kidney failure may also be the culprit, theoretically. These toxins may damage the nerves in the inner ear, closing the connection it has with the brain.

Dementia

Dementia and hearing loss have a two way effect on each other. There is some evidence that cognitive impairment increases a person’s chances of getting conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Brain shrinkage and atrophy are the causes of dementia. 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 injury to the brain increases.

Mumps

Mumps is a viral infection that can cause children to lose their hearing when they’re very young. The reduction in hearing might be only on one side or it may affect both ears. The reason for this is that the cochlea of the inner ear is damaged by the virus. It’s the part of the ear that sends signals to the brain. The positive thing is, due to vaccination mumps are relatively rare at present. Not everyone will experience loss of hearing if they get the mumps.

Chronic Ear Infections

Treatment gets rid of the random ear infection so it’s not much of a risk for most people. However, the little bones of the inner ear or the eardrum can take serious damage from constantly recurring ear infections. When sound cannot reach the inner ear with enough strength to deliver signals to the brain it’s known as conductive hearing loss. Infections can also lead to a sensorineural hearing loss, which means nerve damage.

Many of the diseases that can lead to hearing loss can be avoided by prevention. 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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