Folsom Hearing Aid Center - Folsom and Placerville, CA

Woman with diabetes thinking about hearing loss.

Studies reveal that you are twice as likely to have hearing loss if you have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. If you are a person that associates hearing loss with aging or noise damage, this might surprise you. In 2010, 1.9 million people were diagnosed with diabetes and almost 500,000 of them were under 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 illnesses that can cost a person their hearing. Growing old is a major factor both in illness and loss of hearing but what is the connection between these conditions and ear health? Give some thought to some conditions that can lead to hearing loss.

Diabetes

What the connection is between diabetes and hearing loss is uncertain but clinical evidence seems to suggest there is one. A condition that suggests 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 scientists don’t have a definitive reason as to why this takes place, there are some theories. It is possible that harm to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear might be triggered by high glucose levels. Diabetes is known to impact circulation, so that is a reasonable assumption.

Meningitis

Loss of hearing is a symptom of this infectious disease. Meningitis by definition is inflammation of the membranes that cover the spinal cord and brain, usually due to infection. 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 among the American youth.

Meningitis has the potential to damage the fragile nerves which allow the inner ear to forward signals to the brain. The brain has no way 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:

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

Normally, cardiovascular diseases have a tendency to be linked to age-related hearing loss. The inner ear is subject to damage. 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. It is feasible that this connection is a coincidence, though. There are lots of the same risk factors with kidney disease and other ailments associated with high blood pressure.

Toxins that build up in the blood as a result of kidney failure could also be to blame, theoretically. These toxins may damage the nerves in the inner ear, closing the connection it has with the brain.

Dementia

The connection between loss of hearing and dementia is a two-way street. A person’s chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease appears to be increased by cognitive deterioration. Dementia happens 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 someone who has dementia will have 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 impact both ears or only one side. The reason that this happens is that the cochlea of the inner ear is damaged by the virus. Messages are sent to the brain by this portion of the ear. The positive thing is, due to vaccination mumps are pretty rare at present. Not everyone will experience loss of hearing if they get the mumps.

Chronic Ear Infections

For the majority of individuals, the occasional ear infection is not much of a risk because treatment gets rid of it. For some, though, repeated infections take a toll on the tiny components that are needed 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 get to the inner ear with enough energy, so no signals are transmitted 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. 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.