HEARING TIPS

Health Conditions That Can Cause Hearing Loss

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 think of hearing loss as a problem associated with getting old or noise trauma. Nearly 500,000 of the1.9 million people diagnosed with diabetes in 2010 were below the age of 44. Some form of hearing loss probably impacts at least 250,000 of the younger people who have this disease.

A person’s hearing can be damaged by quite a few diseases besides diabetes. Apart from the apparent factor of aging, what is the relationship between these illnesses and hearing loss? These diseases that lead to loss of hearing should be considered.

Diabetes

What the link is between diabetes and hearing loss is uncertain but clinical evidence seems to indicate there is one. People with prediabetes, a condition that indicates they might develop type 2 diabetes, tend to lose their hearing 30 percent faster than those with normal blood sugar levels.

While researchers don’t have a conclusive answer as to why this takes place, there are some theories. It is possible that high glucose levels might cause damage to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear. Diabetes is known to affect circulation, so that is a realistic assumption.

Meningitis

This infectious disease causes loss of hearing. Meningitis by definition is inflammation of the membranes that cover the spinal cord and brain, normally due to infection. Studies show that 30 percent of people will lose their hearing partially or completely if they get this condition. This infection is the second most common reason for hearing loss in the American youth.

Meningitis has the potential to injure the delicate nerves which permit the inner ear to send signals to the brain. The brain has no method to interpret sound if it doesn’t get these signals.

Cardiovascular Disease

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

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

Commonly, cardiovascular diseases tend to be linked to age-related hearing loss. The inner ear is vulnerable to injury. 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 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 could be a coincidence. Kidney disease and other conditions associated with high blood pressure or diabetes have many of the same risk factors.

Toxins that accumulate in the blood due to kidney failure could also be the culprit, theoretically. The connection that the nerves have with the brain could 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. A person’s chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease appears to be increased by cognitive deterioration. Brain shrinkage and atrophy are the causes of dementia. Difficulty hearing can accelerate that process.

The other side of the coin is true, as well. As damage to the brain increases someone who has dementia will show a decline in their hearing even though their hearing is normal.

Mumps

At an early age the viral infection mumps can cause children to lose their hearing. Hearing loss might impact 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 part of the ear. 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

Treatment gets rid of the random ear infection so it’s not much of a risk for most people. For some, however, repeated infections take a toll on 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 called conductive, and it means that sound cannot reach the inner ear with enough force, so no signals are transmitted to the brain. Infections can also cause 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 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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