Woman with diabetes thinking about hearing loss.

Studies show that people with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from hearing loss, according to the American Diabetes Association. That may surprise those of you who immediately associate hearing loss with aging or noise damage. 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 suffer from some form on hearing loss.

A person’s hearing can be impaired by quite a few diseases other than diabetes. Besides the apparent aspect of the aging process, what is the link between these conditions and hearing loss? These conditions that lead to loss of hearing should be considered.

Diabetes

What the link is between diabetes and hearing loss is unclear but clinical evidence appears to indicate there is one. A condition that indicates 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 there are some theories, researchers still don’t understand why this takes place. It is feasible that high glucose levels might cause damage to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear. Diabetes is known to influence circulation, so that is a realistic assumption.

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. This infection is the second most common reason for hearing loss among American young people.

Meningitis has the potential to harm the delicate nerves that permit the inner ear to forward signals to the brain. The brain has no method to interpret sound without these signals.

Cardiovascular Disease

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

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

Normally, cardiovascular diseases have a tendency to be associated with age-related hearing loss. The inner ear is vulnerable to damage. When there is a change in blood flow, it may not get the oxygen and nutrients it needs to thrive, and injury to the inner ear then leads to loss of hearing.

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. There are lots of the same risk factors with kidney disease and other conditions connected with high blood pressure.

Another hypothesis is that the toxins that collect in the blood as a result of kidney failure might be the cause. The connection that the nerves have with the brain may be closed off because of damage to the ear by these toxins.

Dementia

The link between loss of hearing and dementia goes both ways. There is some evidence that cognitive impairment increases a person’s chances of developing conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia happens because of brain atrophy and shrinkage. Difficulty hearing can accelerate that process.

It also works the other way around. 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

At an early age the viral infection mumps can cause children to lose their hearing. Hearing loss 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. Signals are sent to the brain by this portion of the ear. The good news is mumps is pretty scarce these days due to vaccinations. Not everyone will suffer from loss of hearing if they get the mumps.

Chronic Ear Infections

Treatment clears up the random ear infection so it’s not very risky for the majority of people. However, the little bones of the inner ear or the eardrum can take serious damage from constantly recurring ear infections. This kind of hearing loss is known as conductive, and it means that sound cannot reach the inner ear with enough energy, so no signals are transmitted to the brain. Sensorineural hearing loss or nerve damage can also be caused by infections.

Many of the illnesses that can lead to 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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