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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. This fact is surprising for people who view hearing loss as a problem associated with aging or noise trauma. In 2010, 1.9 million people were diagnosed with diabetes and almost 500,000 of them were below the age of 44. Evidence reveals that 250,000 of those younger people who have the disease probably suffer from some form on hearing loss.

The main point is that diabetes is only one of several conditions which can cost a person their hearing. Besides the obvious factor of the aging process, what is the relationship between these diseases and hearing loss? These conditions that lead to hearing loss should be taken into consideration.

Diabetes

It is uncertain why people with diabetes have a higher occurrence 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.

Even though there are some theories, scientists still don’t know why this occurs. It is feasible that high glucose levels may cause damage to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear. Diabetes is known to impact circulation, so that is a realistic assumption.

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 will lose their hearing partially or completely if they get this condition. Among young people in America, this infection is the second leading cause of hearing loss.

Meningitis has the potential to damage the fragile nerves that allow the inner ear to forward signals to the brain. The brain has no way to interpret sound without these signals.

Cardiovascular Disease

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

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

Age related hearing loss is normally associated with cardiovascular diseases. Damage can easily happen to the inner ear. Injury to the inner ear causes 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. It is possible that this relationship is a coincidence, though. Kidney disease and other ailments involving high blood pressure or diabetes have many of the same risk factors.

Another theory is that the toxins that build up in the blood as a result of kidney failure could be the cause. The connection that the nerves have with the brain might be closed off because of damage to the ear by these toxins.

Dementia

The connection between hearing loss and dementia is a two-way street. There is the indication that cognitive impairment increases a person’s chances of getting conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia happens due to brain atrophy and shrinkage. Trouble hearing can accelerate that process.

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

Mumps

Early in life the viral infection mumps can cause children to lose their hearing. The reduction in hearing could be only on one side or it may impact 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 rare nowadays due to vaccinations. Not everyone who has the mumps will experience hearing loss.

Chronic Ear Infections

Treatment gets rid of the occasional ear infection so it’s not very risky for most people. However, the little bones of the inner ear or the eardrum can be seriously damaged by constantly recurring ear infections. When sound cannot get to the inner ear with enough energy to deliver signals to the brain it’s known as conductive hearing loss. Infections can also cause a sensorineural hearing loss, which means nerve damage.

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