Woman with diabetes thinking about hearing loss.

Studies indicate that you are twice as likely to suffer from hearing loss if you have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. If you are someone that associates hearing loss with growing old or noise trauma, this may surprise you. Almost 500,000 of the1.9 million people diagnosed with diabetes in 2010 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.

A person’s hearing can be impaired by several diseases besides diabetes. Other than the apparent factor of aging, what is the relationship between these illnesses and hearing loss? Give some thought to some illnesses that can lead to hearing loss.

Diabetes

It is unclear why people with diabetes have a higher incidence of hearing loss or even if diabetes is connected to hearing loss, but the clinical research does point in that direction. 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 researchers don’t have a definitive answer as to why this occurs, there are some theories. It is feasible that harm to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear could be caused by high glucose levels. That’s a reasonable assumption since diabetes is known to influence circulation.

Meningitis

Loss of hearing is a symptom of this infectious disease. 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 develop this condition. 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. Without these signals, the brain has no means of interpreting sound.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term that relates to ailments that affect the heart or blood vessels. This category contains these common diseases:

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

Normally, 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 get 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 may be a coincidence. 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 may also be the culprit, theoretically. The connection that the nerves have with the brain may 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. There is some evidence that cognitive impairment increases a person’s risk of getting conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia happens due to brain atrophy and shrinkage. Difficulty hearing can accelerate that process.

The other side of the coin is true, as well. As injury to the brain increases someone who has dementia will show 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. The reduction in hearing may be only on one side or it could affect both ears. The reason for this is that the cochlea of the inner ear is damaged by the virus. Messages are sent to the brain by this part of the ear. The good news is mumps is pretty rare nowadays due to vaccinations. Not everyone will suffer from hearing loss if they get the mumps.

Chronic Ear Infections

Treatment clears up the random ear infection so it’s not very risky for most people. For some, though, repeated infections can wear out the tiny components that are needed for hearing like the eardrum or the small bones in the middle ear. This type of hearing loss is known as conductive, and it means that sound cannot reach the inner ear with enough force, so no messages are sent to the brain. Sensorineural hearing loss or nerve damage can also be caused by infections.

Prevention is the key to avoiding many of the diseases that can cost you your 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.