Woman with diabetes thinking about hearing loss.

Studies indicate that you are twice as likely to struggle with hearing loss if you have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. If you are someone that associates hearing loss with aging or noise trauma, this might surprise you. Almost 500,000 of the1.9 million people diagnosed with diabetes in 2010 were below the age of 44. Evidence shows that 250,000 of those younger people who have the disease probably have some form on hearing loss.

The thing is that diabetes is just one of several conditions which can cost a person their hearing. The aging process is a considerable factor both in illness and loss of hearing but what is the link between these conditions and ear health? Give some thought to some conditions that can lead to hearing loss.

Diabetes

What the link is between diabetes and hearing loss is uncertain but clinical evidence appears to indicate there is one. A condition that indicates a person may 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, scientists still don’t know why this takes place. It is feasible that harm to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear could be caused by high glucose levels. That’s a reasonable assumption since diabetes is known to influence circulation.

Meningitis

This infectious disease causes loss of hearing. Because of infection, the membranes that cover the spine and brain become inflamed and that defines meningitis. Studies show that 30 percent of people will lose their hearing in part or in full if they develop this condition. This infection is the second most common reason for hearing loss in the American youth.

The fragile nerves that relay signals to the inner ear are potentially injured by meningitis. The brain has no way to interpret sound without these signals.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella label that covers conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels. This category contains these common diseases:

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

Usually, cardiovascular diseases tend to be associated with age-related hearing loss. Damage can easily happen to the inner ear. Damage to the inner ear leads to hearing loss when there is a change in blood flow and it doesn’t receive the oxygen and nutrients that it needs to thrive.

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 might be a coincidence. Kidney disease and other ailments involving high blood pressure or diabetes have lots of the same risk factors.

Another possibility is that the toxins that build-up in the blood as a result of kidney failure may be the culprit. These toxins could damage the nerves in the inner ear, closing the connection it has with the brain.

Dementia

The connection between hearing loss and dementia goes both ways. A person’s risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease appears to be increased by cognitive deterioration. Dementia happens due to brain atrophy and shrinkage. Difficulty hearing can hasten that process.

It also works the other way around. Somebody who has dementia even though there is normal hearing will show a decline in their hearing as damage to the brain increases.

Mumps

Mumps is a viral infection which can cause children to lose their hearing when they’re very young. Loss of hearing might affect both ears or only one side. The reason this occurs is the virus damages the cochlea in the inner ear. Messages are sent to the brain by this portion of the ear. The good thing is mumps is pretty rare these days due to vaccinations. Not everyone will experience loss of hearing if they get the mumps.

Chronic Ear Infections

Treatment gets rid of the occasional ear infection so it’s not much of a risk for the majority of people. However, the small bones of the inner ear or the eardrum can take serious damage from constantly recurring ear infections. This type of hearing loss is known as conductive, and it means that sound cannot reach the inner ear with enough force, so no messages are sent 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 cause you to lose hearing. A healthy diet, plenty of exercise and regular sleep habits really help with 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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