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. That could surprise those of you who automatically connect hearing loss with growing old or noise damage. Nearly 500,000 of the1.9 million people diagnosed with diabetes in 2010 were below the age of 44. Evidence reveals that 250,000 of those younger people with the disease likely suffer from some form on hearing loss.

The thing is that diabetes is just one of several ailments which can cost a person their hearing. Apart from the apparent factor of the aging process, what is the link between these illnesses and hearing loss? Give some thought to some conditions that can lead to loss of hearing.

Diabetes

What the link is between diabetes and hearing loss is uncertain but clinical research seems to suggest there is one. 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.

Even though there are some theories, researchers still don’t understand why this occurs. It is possible that damage to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear could be triggered by high glucose levels. That’s a realistic assumption since diabetes is known to affect circulation.

Meningitis

Loss of hearing is a symptom of this infectious disease. Because of infection, the membranes that cover the spine and brain become inflamed and that defines meningitis. Studies show that 30 percent of people will lose their hearing in part or in full if they get this condition. This infection is the second most common cause of hearing loss among the American youth.

Meningitis has the potential to harm the fragile nerves which allow the inner ear to send 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”. Some common diseases in this category include:

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

Age related hearing loss is normally linked to cardiovascular diseases. Damage can easily happen to the inner ear. When there is an alteration of the blood flow, it may not get the oxygen and nutrients it needs to thrive, and damage to the inner ear then leads to loss of hearing.

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 feasible that this relationship is a coincidence, though. Kidney disease and other conditions associated with high blood pressure or diabetes have lots of the same risk factors.

Another theory is that the toxins that build-up in the blood as a result of kidney failure might be the cause. These toxins could damage the nerves in the inner ear, closing the connection it has with the brain.

Dementia

The link between hearing loss and dementia is a two-way street. A person’s risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease appears to be increased by cognitive deterioration. Dementia comes about due to brain atrophy and shrinkage. Difficulty hearing can hasten that process.

It also works the other way around. Someone who develops dementia even though there is normal hearing will show a decline in their hearing as damage to the brain increases.

Mumps

Mumps is a viral infection that can cause children to lose their hearing when they’re very young. The decrease in hearing might be only on one side or it may affect both ears. The reason for this is that the cochlea of the inner ear is damaged by the virus. It’s the part of the ear that sends signals to the brain. The good news is mumps is pretty scarce nowadays due to vaccinations. Not everyone who has the mumps will suffer from hearing loss.

Chronic Ear Infections

For the majority of people, the occasional ear infection is not very risky because treatment gets rid of it. For some, though, repeated infections take a toll on the tiny pieces that are needed for hearing such as the eardrum or the small bones in the middle ear. This form of hearing loss is called conductive, and it means that sound cannot reach the inner ear with enough force, so no signals are sent to the brain. Infections can also cause a sensorineural hearing loss, which means nerve damage.

Prevention is the key to steering clear of many of the illnesses 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.

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