Studies indicate 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 aging or noise damage. Close to 500,000 of the1.9 million people diagnosed with diabetes in 2010 were under the age of 44. Some form of hearing loss most likely impacts at least 250,000 of the younger people who have this disease.
A person’s hearing can be impaired by quite a few diseases besides diabetes. Other than the apparent aspect of aging, what is the link between these diseases and hearing loss? These illnesses that lead to hearing loss should be taken into consideration.
What the connection is between diabetes and hearing loss is not clear but clinical evidence appears to indicate there is one. People with prediabetes, a condition that implies they might develop type 2 diabetes, tend to lose their hearing 30 percent faster than those with normal blood sugar levels.
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 may be triggered by high glucose levels. That’s a reasonable assumption since diabetes is known to affect circulation.
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 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 the American youth.
Meningitis has the potential to injure the delicate nerves that allow the inner ear to send signals to the brain. Without these signals, the brain has no method of interpreting sound.
Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term that relates to conditions that involve the heart or blood vessels. This category contains these well-known diseases:
- Heart failure
- Peripheral artery disease
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
Age related hearing loss is normally associated with cardiovascular diseases. Damage can easily happen to the inner ear. Injury 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. It is possible that this connection is a coincidence, though. Kidney disease and other ailments associated with high blood pressure or diabetes have many of the same risk factors.
Toxins that accumulate in the blood as a result of kidney failure could also be responsible, theoretically. The connection that the nerves have with the brain may be closed off due to damage to the ear by these toxins.
Dementia and hearing loss have a two way effect on each other. A person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease seems to be increased by cognitive impairment. Dementia occurs due to brain atrophy and shrinkage. That process is accelerated by hearing loss.
It also works the other way around. Someone who has dementia even though there is normal hearing will show a decline in their hearing as damage to the brain increases.
At an early age the viral infection mumps can cause children to lose their hearing. The decrease in hearing could be only on one side or it may affect both ears. The reason 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 positive thing is, due to vaccination mumps are relatively rare today. Not everyone will suffer from hearing loss if they get the mumps.
Chronic Ear Infections
For the majority of people, the random ear infection is not much of a risk because treatment gets rid of it. For some, however, infection after infection can wear out the tiny pieces that are needed for hearing like the eardrum or the small bones in the middle ear. When sound cannot reach the inner ear with enough force to send messages to the brain it’s called conductive hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss or nerve damage can also be caused by infections.
Prevention is the key to avoiding 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.