HEARING TIPS

Hearing Loss Can be Caused by Many Health Conditions

Woman with diabetes thinking about hearing loss.

Studies reveal 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 those who view hearing loss as a problem associated with getting old or noise damage. In 2010, 1.9 million people were diagnosed with diabetes and close to 500,000 of them were below the age of 44. Evidence reveals that 250,000 of those younger people with the disease probably have some form on hearing loss.

A person’s hearing can be damaged by several diseases other than diabetes. Apart from the obvious factor of the aging process, what is the relationship between these illnesses and hearing loss? Consider some conditions that can lead to loss of hearing.

Diabetes

It is unclear 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 may 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 know why this occurs. It is feasible that harm to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear may be caused by high glucose levels. 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 swell up 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.

The fragile nerves that relay signals to the inner ear are potentially injured by meningitis. Without these signals, the brain has no way of interpreting sound.

Cardiovascular Disease

Conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels are covered under the umbrella term “cardiovascular disease”. This category contains these common diseases:

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

Typically, cardiovascular diseases tend to be associated with 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. Kidney disease and other ailments associated with high blood pressure or diabetes have lots of the same risk factors.

Toxins that collect in the blood due to kidney failure could also be responsible, theoretically. These toxins could damage the nerves in the inner ear, closing the connection it has with the brain.

Dementia

Dementia and hearing loss have a two way effect on each other. A person’s risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease seems to be increased by cognitive deterioration. Brain shrinkage and atrophy are the causes of dementia. That process is accelerated by hearing loss.

It also works the other way around. A person who has dementia even though there is normal hearing will show a decline in their hearing as injury 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 impact both ears. The reason why this happens is the virus damages the cochlea in the inner ear. Signals are sent to the brain by this part of the ear. The good news is mumps is pretty scarce nowadays due to vaccinations. Not everyone who has the mumps will experience hearing loss.

Chronic Ear Infections

Treatment clears up the random ear infection so it’s not much of a risk for most people. For some, however, repeated infections take a toll on the tiny components that are necessary for hearing such as the eardrum or the small bones in the middle ear. This kind of hearing loss is called conductive, and it means that sound cannot reach the inner ear with enough force, so no messages are transmitted to the brain. Sensorineural hearing loss or nerve damage can also be caused by infections.

Prevention is the key to avoiding many of the illnesses that can cost you your hearing. Throughout your life protecting your hearing will be possible 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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