Eastside Audiology - Issaquah, WA Eastside Audiology - Issaquah, WA

Woman with diabetes thinking about hearing loss.

Studies reveal that you are twice as likely to suffer from hearing loss if you have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. This statistic is surprising for those who picture hearing loss as a problem associated 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. Some form of hearing loss probably affects at least 250,000 of the younger people who have this disease.

A person’s hearing can be damaged by several diseases other than diabetes. The aging process is a considerable factor both in sickness and loss of hearing but what is the link between these conditions and ear health? These conditions that lead to hearing loss should be considered.

Diabetes

What the link is between diabetes and hearing loss is unclear but clinical evidence appears to suggest there is one. People who have 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.

Even though there are some theories, researchers still don’t know why this takes place. 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 realistic assumption.

Meningitis

Loss of hearing is a symptom of this infectious disease. Meningitis by definition is swelling of the membranes that cover the spinal cord and brain, commonly due to infection. Studies show that 30 percent of people will lose their hearing partially or completely if they get this condition. Among young people in America, this infection is the second leading cause of hearing loss.

Meningitis has the potential to harm the delicate nerves that permit the inner ear to forward signals to the brain. 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”. This category contains these common diseases:

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

Normally, cardiovascular diseases have a tendency to be associated with age-related hearing loss. The inner ear is subject to damage. Injury to the inner ear leads to hearing loss when there is a change in blood flow and it doesn’t get 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 may be a coincidence. There are many of the same risk factors with kidney disease and other conditions connected with high blood pressure.

Toxins that collect in the blood due to kidney failure might also be to blame, theoretically. 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. A person’s chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease seems to be increased by cognitive deterioration. Brain shrinkage and atrophy are the causes of dementia. That process is accelerated by hearing loss.

It also works the other way around. As injury to the brain increases a person who has dementia will have 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. The reduction in hearing might be only in one ear or it may impact both ears. 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 positive thing is, due to vaccination mumps are relatively rare today. Not everyone will experience loss of hearing if they get the mumps.

Chronic Ear Infections

Treatment clears up the random ear infection so it’s not much of a risk for the majority of people. For some, though, repeated infections 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 get to the inner ear with enough energy to deliver 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 avoiding many of the illnesses that can cause you to lose 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.

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