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Woman with diabetes thinking about hearing loss.

Studies indicate that people with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from hearing loss, according to the American Diabetes Association. If you are somebody that associates hearing loss with aging or noise trauma, this might surprise you. Almost 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 who have the disease likely have some form on hearing loss.

A person’s hearing can be damaged by quite a few diseases other than diabetes. The aging process is a considerable factor both in disease and loss of hearing but what is the relationship between these conditions and ear health? Consider some conditions that can lead to hearing loss.

Diabetes

What the connection is between diabetes and hearing loss is unclear but clinical evidence seems to indicate there is one. A condition that indicates a person may develop type 2 diabetes, called prediabetes, causes people to lose their hearing 30 percent faster than people who don’t have it.

While scientists don’t have a conclusive answer as to why this takes place, there are some theories. It is feasible that damage to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear could be triggered by high glucose levels. That’s a reasonable assumption since diabetes is known to influence circulation.

Meningitis

This infectious disease causes hearing loss. Meningitis by definition is swelling of the membranes that cover the spinal cord and brain, usually due to infection. Studies show that 30 percent of people will lose their hearing partially or completely if they get this condition. Among the American youth, this infection is the second leading cause of hearing loss.

Meningitis has the potential to damage the fragile nerves that permit the inner ear to forward signals to the brain. Without these signals, the brain has no method of interpreting sound.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term that covers conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels. This category contains these well-known diseases:

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

Age related hearing loss is usually associated with cardiovascular diseases. Injury can easily happen to the inner ear. When there is a change in 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 with this condition also had an increased risk of hearing loss. A separate study found that chance to be as high as 43 percent. However, this connection might be a coincidence. There are many of the same risk factors with kidney disease and other ailments connected with high blood pressure.

Toxins that accumulate in the blood as a result of kidney failure might also be responsible, theoretically. 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. A person’s chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease appears to be increased by cognitive deterioration. Dementia occurs because of brain atrophy and shrinkage. That process is accelerated by hearing loss.

The other side of the coin is true, also. As injury to the brain increases a person who has dementia will show a decline in their hearing even though their hearing is normal.

Mumps

Mumps is a viral infection that can cause children to lose their hearing early in life. The reduction in hearing may be only on one side or it may impact both ears. The reason that this happens 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 positive thing is, due to vaccination mumps are pretty rare nowadays. Not everyone who gets the mumps will experience hearing loss.

Chronic Ear Infections

For most individuals, the occasional ear infection is not much of a risk 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 type of hearing loss is called conductive, and it means that sound cannot reach the inner ear with enough force, so no signals are transmitted to the brain. Infections can also cause a sensorineural hearing loss, which means nerve damage.

Prevention is the key to avoiding 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.