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Woman with diabetes thinking about hearing loss.

Studies reveal that you are twice as likely to struggle with hearing loss if you have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. This statistic is unexpected for those who picture hearing loss as a problem associated with getting old or noise damage. In 2010, 1.9 million people were diagnosed with diabetes and nearly 500,000 of them were under the age of 44. Evidence reveals that 250,000 of those younger people with the disease probably have some form on hearing loss.

A person’s hearing can be damaged by quite a few diseases other than diabetes. Apart from the obvious factor of aging, what is the relationship between these diseases and hearing loss? Give some thought to some conditions that can lead to loss of hearing.

Diabetes

It is not clear why people with diabetes have a higher chance of hearing loss or even if diabetes is related to hearing loss, but the clinical research does point in that direction. People who have prediabetes, a condition that implies they may 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 occurs. It is feasible that high glucose levels could cause damage to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear. That’s a reasonable assumption since diabetes is known to affect circulation.

Meningitis

This infectious disease causes hearing loss. 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 have this condition will also lose their hearing, either partially or completely. Among young people in America, this infection is the second leading cause of hearing loss.

The delicate nerves that relay signals to the inner ear are potentially damaged by meningitis. The brain has no way to interpret sound if it doesn’t get these signals.

Cardiovascular Disease

Conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels are covered under the umbrella term “cardiovascular disease”. This category contains these well-known diseases:

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

Age related hearing loss is normally associated with cardiovascular diseases. Damage can easily happen to the inner ear. 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. It is possible 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 accumulate in the blood due to kidney failure may 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

The connection between loss of hearing and dementia is a two-way street. There is some evidence that cognitive deterioration increases a person’s chances of developing conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Brain shrinkage and atrophy are the causes of dementia. Difficulty hearing can accelerate that process.

The flip side of the coin is true, also. Somebody who develops dementia even though there is normal hearing will show a decline in their hearing as injury to the brain increases.

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 this happens is the virus damages the cochlea in the inner ear. It’s the part of the ear that sends signals to the brain. The positive thing is, due to vaccination mumps are pretty rare nowadays. Not everyone will suffer from loss of hearing if they get the mumps.

Chronic Ear Infections

For the majority of individuals, the random ear infection is not very risky since treatment gets rid of it. For some, however, repeated infections take a toll on the tiny pieces that are necessary for hearing like the eardrum or the small bones in the middle ear. This form of hearing loss is known as conductive, and it means that sound cannot reach the inner ear with enough force, so no signals are sent to the brain. Sensorineural hearing loss or nerve damage can also be caused by infections.

Many of the diseases that can lead to hearing loss can be avoided by prevention. 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.