Studies indicate that people with diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing loss, according to the American Diabetes Association. That may surprise those of you who automatically associate hearing loss with getting old or noise damage. Almost 500,000 of the1.9 million people diagnosed with diabetes in 2010 were under the age of 44. Evidence reveals that 250,000 of those younger people with the disease probably have some form on hearing loss.
The point is that diabetes is only one in many ailments which can cost a person their hearing. The aging process is a significant aspect both in sickness and loss of hearing but what is the relationship between these disorders and ear health? These illnesses that lead to hearing loss should be taken into consideration.
What the link is between diabetes and hearing loss is unclear but clinical research seems to indicate there is one. A condition that suggests a person might develop type 2 diabetes, called prediabetes, causes people to lose their hearing 30 percent faster than people who don’t have it.
While there are some theories, scientists still don’t understand why this happens. It is possible that damage to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear may be caused by high glucose levels. That’s a reasonable assumption since diabetes is known to affect circulation.
Hearing loss is a symptom of this infectious disease. 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 the American youth, this infection is the second leading cause of hearing loss.
The fragile nerves which send signals to the inner ear are potentially damaged by meningitis. The brain has no way to interpret sound if it doesn’t get these signals.
Ailments that affect the heart or blood vessels are covered under the umbrella term “cardiovascular disease”. This category contains these well-known diseases:
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- High blood pressure
- Peripheral artery disease
Usually, cardiovascular diseases tend to be associated with age-related hearing loss. The inner ear is subject to harm. When there is an alteration of the blood flow, it may not get the oxygen and nutrients it needs to thrive, and injury to the inner ear then leads to hearing loss.
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 connection is a coincidence, though. Kidney disease and other conditions associated with high blood pressure or diabetes have lots of the same risk factors.
Another hypothesis is that the toxins that build-up in the blood as a result of kidney failure might be the cause. The connection that the nerves have with the brain could be closed off due to damage to the ear by these toxins.
Dementia and hearing loss have a two way effect on each other. A person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease seems to be increased by cognitive deterioration. Dementia happens due to brain atrophy and shrinkage. Trouble hearing can hasten that process.
The flip side of the coin is true, as well. Someone who develops dementia even though there is normal hearing will show a decline in their hearing as damage to the brain increases.
Mumps is a viral infection which can cause children to lose their hearing early in life. Hearing loss might impact both ears or only one side. 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 messages to the brain. The good thing is mumps is pretty rare these days due to vaccinations. Not everyone will experience hearing loss if they get the mumps.
Chronic Ear Infections
Treatment gets rid of the occasional ear infection so it’s not very risky for the majority of people. However, the small bones of the inner ear or the eardrum can take serious damage from constantly recurring ear infections. This type of hearing loss is called conductive, and it means that sound cannot get to the inner ear with enough force, so no messages are sent to the brain. Infections can also lead to a sensorineural hearing loss, which means nerve damage.
Many of the illnesses that can lead to hearing loss can be avoided by prevention. A healthy diet, plenty of exercise and regular sleep habits really help with protecting your ear health throughout your life. You should also get regular hearing exams to make sure your ears stay healthy.