Enhanced Hearing Center - Springfield, MO

Woman with diabetes thinking about hearing loss.

Studies indicate that people with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from hearing loss, according to the American Diabetes Association. If you are someone that associates hearing loss with aging or noise damage, this might surprise you. In 2010, 1.9 million people were diagnosed with diabetes and nearly 500,000 of them were below the age of 44. Evidence reveals that 250,000 of those younger people with the disease probably suffer from some form on hearing loss.

A person’s hearing can be impaired by quite a few diseases besides diabetes. The aging process is a considerable aspect both in sickness and loss of hearing but what is the link between these disorders and ear health? Consider some conditions that can lead to loss of hearing.

Diabetes

It is unclear why people who have diabetes have a higher incidence of hearing loss or even if diabetes is connected to hearing loss, but the clinical evidence does point in that direction. 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.

Even though there are some theories, scientists still don’t understand why this happens. It is feasible that damage to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear may be caused by high glucose levels. That’s a realistic assumption since diabetes is known to affect circulation.

Meningitis

This infectious disease causes hearing loss. Because of infection, the membranes that cover the spine and brain swell up and that defines meningitis. Studies show that 30 percent of people who have this condition will also lose their hearing, either partially or completely. Among the American youth, this infection is the second leading cause of hearing loss.

The delicate nerves that 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

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

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

Age related hearing loss is generally linked to cardiovascular diseases. The inner ear is susceptible to injury. When there is an alteration of the blood flow, it may 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 with this condition also had an increased risk of hearing loss. A separate study found that chance to be as high as 43 percent. However, this connection could be a coincidence. Kidney disease and other conditions involving high blood pressure or diabetes have lots of the same risk factors.

Another theory is that the toxins that collect in the blood due to kidney failure may be the cause. These toxins may damage the nerves in the inner ear, closing the connection it has with the brain.

Dementia

The link between hearing loss and dementia is a two-way street. There is some evidence that cognitive deterioration increases a person’s chances of developing conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia occurs because of brain atrophy and shrinkage. That process is accelerated by hearing loss.

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

Mumps is a viral infection which can cause children to lose their hearing when they’re very young. Hearing loss may affect both ears or only one side. The reason why this happens is the virus damages the cochlea in the inner ear. It’s the component of the ear that sends signals to the brain. The good thing is mumps is pretty scarce nowadays due to vaccinations. Not everyone will suffer from hearing loss if they get the mumps.

Chronic Ear Infections

For most 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 components that are necessary for hearing like the eardrum or the small bones in the middle ear. 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 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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