Woman with diabetes thinking about hearing loss.

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

The main point is that diabetes is just one of several conditions which can cost a person their hearing. Other than the obvious aspect of the aging process, what is the link between these diseases and hearing loss? Give some thought to some diseases that can lead to hearing loss.

Diabetes

What the link is between diabetes and hearing loss is not clear but clinical evidence seems to suggest there is one. People who have 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.

Even though there are some theories, scientists still don’t understand why this takes place. It is possible that damage 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 influence circulation.

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 will lose their hearing partially or completely if they get this condition. This infection is the second most common cause of hearing loss among the American youth.

The fragile nerves that relay signals to the inner ear are potentially injured by meningitis. Without these signals, the brain has no way of interpreting sound.

Cardiovascular Disease

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

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

Commonly, cardiovascular diseases have a tendency to be linked to age-related hearing loss. Damage 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 possible that this connection is a coincidence, though. Kidney disease and other conditions associated with high blood pressure or diabetes have many of the same risk factors.

Toxins that accumulate in the blood as a result of kidney failure may also be to blame, theoretically. These toxins could 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. A person’s chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease appears to be increased by cognitive impairment. Brain shrinkage and atrophy are the causes of dementia. Difficulty hearing can hasten that process.

It also works the other way around. Someone who has 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 when they’re very young. The reduction in hearing might be only on one side or it could impact both ears. The reason why this happens is the virus damages the cochlea in the inner ear. It’s the part of the ear that sends signals to the brain. The positive thing is, due to vaccination mumps are fairly rare today. Not everyone who has the mumps will suffer from hearing loss.

Chronic Ear Infections

For the majority of individuals, the occasional ear infection is not much of a risk since treatment gets rid of it. For some, though, repeated infections can wear out the tiny pieces that are required for hearing such as the eardrum or the small bones in the middle ear. This form of hearing loss is known as conductive, and it means that sound cannot reach 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.

Prevention is the key to steering clear of many of the illnesses that can cost you your hearing. Throughout your life protecting your hearing will be possible 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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