Studies show that you are twice as likely to suffer from hearing loss if you have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. This statistic is surprising for those who picture hearing loss as a problem associated with aging or noise damage. In 2010, 1.9 million people were diagnosed with diabetes and almost 500,000 of them were under the age of 44. Evidence reveals that 250,000 of those younger people who have the disease likely have some form on hearing loss.
The main point is that diabetes is only one in many diseases which can cost a person their hearing. Getting old is a major aspect both in sickness and hearing loss but what is the relationship between these disorders and ear health? Consider some illnesses that can lead to loss of hearing.
It is unclear why people with diabetes have a higher occurrence 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.
While scientists don’t have a definitive answer as to why this takes place, there are some theories. 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.
This infectious disease causes loss of hearing. Meningitis by definition is inflammation of the membranes that cover the spinal cord and brain, commonly due to infection. Studies show that 30 percent of people will lose their hearing in part or in full if they develop this condition. This infection is the second most common reason for hearing loss among the American youth.
The delicate nerves which send signals to the inner ear are potentially injured by meningitis. Without these signals, the brain has no method of interpreting sound.
Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella name that covers conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels. Some normal diseases in this category include:
- Peripheral artery disease
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Heart failure
Normally, cardiovascular diseases tend to be linked to age-related hearing loss. Injury can easily happen to the inner ear. Injury 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. However, this connection may be a coincidence. There are lots of the same risk factors with kidney disease and other conditions connected with high blood pressure.
Toxins that accumulate in the blood due to kidney failure might also be responsible, theoretically. The connection that the nerves have with the brain might be closed off due to damage to the ear by these toxins.
The connection between loss of hearing and dementia goes both ways. There is some evidence that cognitive impairment increases a person’s risk of getting conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia happens because of brain atrophy and shrinkage. That process is accelerated by hearing loss.
It also works the other way around. As injury to the brain increases someone who has dementia will have a decline in their hearing even though their hearing is normal.
Mumps is a viral infection that can cause children to lose their hearing early in life. Loss of hearing might impact both ears or only one side. The reason this occurs 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 fairly rare nowadays. Not everyone will suffer from loss of hearing if they get the mumps.
Chronic Ear Infections
Treatment gets rid of the random ear infection so it’s not much of a risk for the majority of people. For some, however, infection after infection take a toll on the tiny pieces that are needed for hearing like the eardrum or the small bones in the middle ear. When sound cannot reach the inner ear with enough force to deliver messages to the brain it’s called conductive hearing loss. Infections can also lead to a sensorineural hearing loss, which means nerve damage.
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 will go a long way to protecting your ear health throughout your life. You should also get regular hearing exams to make sure your ears stay healthy.