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Woman with diabetes thinking about hearing loss.

Studies indicate that people with diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing loss, according to the American Diabetes Association. This statistic is surprising for those who picture hearing loss as a problem associated with aging 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 with the disease likely have some form on hearing loss.

The point is that diabetes is just one in many illnesses which can cost a person their hearing. Growing old is a significant aspect both in sickness and hearing loss but what is the connection between these conditions and ear health? These illnesses that lead to loss of hearing should be considered.

Diabetes

What the link is between diabetes and hearing loss is uncertain but clinical research seems to suggest there is one. 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 occurs. It is possible that harm to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear could 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 become inflamed and that defines meningitis. Studies show that 30 percent of people who develop this condition will also lose their hearing, either partially or completely. This infection is the second most common cause of hearing loss in the American youth.

The delicate nerves that relay signals to the inner ear are potentially damaged by meningitis. The brain has no means to interpret sound without these signals.

Cardiovascular Disease

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

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

Typically, cardiovascular diseases tend to be associated with age-related hearing loss. The inner ear is vulnerable to injury. 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 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. However, this connection may be a coincidence. There are lots of the same risk factors with kidney disease and other conditions associated with high blood pressure.

Toxins that accumulate in the blood due to kidney failure might also be to blame, theoretically. The connection that the nerves have with the brain might be closed off due to 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 occurs due to brain atrophy and shrinkage. That process is accelerated by hearing loss.

The other side of the coin is true, also. As injury to the brain increases a person who has dementia will show a decline in their hearing even though their hearing is normal.

Mumps

Early in life the viral infection mumps can cause children to lose their hearing. Loss of hearing 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. It’s the part of the ear that sends messages to the brain. The good news is mumps is pretty rare nowadays due to vaccinations. Not everyone will experience hearing loss 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 tiny bones of the inner ear or the eardrum can be seriously damaged by constantly recurring ear infections. When sound cannot reach the inner ear with enough strength to send messages to the brain it’s known as conductive hearing loss. Infections can also lead to a sensorineural hearing loss, which means nerve damage.

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 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.