Woman with diabetes thinking about hearing loss.

Studies reveal that you are twice as likely to struggle with hearing loss if you have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. That could surprise those of you who automatically associate hearing loss with growing old or noise damage. Close to 500,000 of the1.9 million people diagnosed with diabetes in 2010 were under 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.

The main point is that diabetes is only one of several conditions that can cost a person their hearing. Aging is a significant aspect both in sickness and loss of hearing but what is the connection between these conditions and ear health? Give some thought to some illnesses that can lead to loss of hearing.

Diabetes

It is not clear why people with diabetes have a higher chance of hearing loss or even if diabetes is connected to hearing loss, but the clinical research does point in that direction. 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.

Even though there are some theories, scientists still don’t know why this happens. It is possible 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 reasonable assumption.

Meningitis

Hearing loss is a symptom of this infectious disease. Meningitis by definition is inflammation of the membranes that cover the spinal cord and brain, usually due to infection. Studies show that 30 percent of people who develop this condition will also lose their hearing, either partially or completely. Among young people in America, this infection is the second leading cause of hearing loss.

The fragile nerves which send signals to the inner ear are potentially damaged by meningitis. The brain has no means to interpret sound if it doesn’t get these signals.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella name that relates to ailments that impact the heart or blood vessels. Some typical diseases in this category include:

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

Commonly, cardiovascular diseases tend to be associated with 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 injury to the inner ear then leads to loss of hearing.

Chronic Kidney Disease

A 2012 study published in The Laryngoscope found that people with this condition also had an increased risk of hearing loss. 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.

Another possibility is that the toxins that collect in the blood as a result of kidney failure may be to blame. The connection that the nerves have with the brain could be closed off because of 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 impairment increases a person’s chances of getting conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia happens due to brain atrophy and shrinkage. Trouble hearing can accelerate that process.

The flip side of the coin is true, also. 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 which can cause children to lose their hearing early in life. Hearing loss may affect both ears or only one side. The reason why this occurs is the virus damages the cochlea in the inner ear. It’s the component of the ear that sends signals to the brain. The positive thing is, due to vaccination mumps are pretty rare nowadays. Not everyone will suffer from loss of hearing if they get the mumps.

Chronic Ear Infections

Treatment gets rid of the occasional ear infection so it’s not very risky for most people. However, the tiny bones of the inner ear or the eardrum can be seriously damaged by constantly recurring ear infections. This form of hearing loss is known as conductive, and it means that sound cannot reach the inner ear with enough force, so no messages are transmitted to the brain. Infections can also lead to a sensorineural hearing loss, which means nerve damage.

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