HEARING TIPS

Health Conditions That Can Cause Hearing Loss

Woman with diabetes thinking about hearing loss.

Studies indicate that people with diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing loss, according to the American Diabetes Association. That might surprise those of you who immediately connect hearing loss with growing old or noise damage. Close to 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 with the disease probably suffer from some form on hearing loss.

A person’s hearing can be impaired by quite a few diseases besides diabetes. Besides the obvious aspect of aging, what is the connection between these conditions and hearing loss? These conditions that lead to hearing loss should be considered.

Diabetes

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 evidence does point in that direction. A condition that indicates a person could develop type 2 diabetes, called prediabetes, causes people to lose their hearing 30 percent faster than people who don’t have it.

While researchers don’t have a conclusive reason as to why this takes place, there are some theories. It is feasible that high glucose levels might cause damage to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear. That’s a reasonable assumption since diabetes is known to affect circulation.

Meningitis

This infectious disease causes loss of hearing. 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. This infection is the second most common reason for hearing loss among the American youth.

Meningitis has the potential to damage the delicate nerves which permit the inner ear to forward signals to the brain. The brain has no way to interpret sound if it doesn’t get these signals.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term that covers ailments that impact the heart or blood vessels. Some normal diseases in this category include:

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

Age related hearing loss is usually linked to cardiovascular diseases. Damage can easily happen to the inner ear. When there is an alteration of the blood flow, it might not get the oxygen and nutrients it needs to thrive, and injury to the inner ear then leads to loss of hearing.

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 might be a coincidence. There are many of the same risk factors with kidney disease and other ailments associated with high blood pressure.

Toxins that accumulate in the blood due to kidney failure could also be the culprit, theoretically. These toxins may 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. There is the indication that cognitive impairment increases a person’s chances of getting conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia happens due to brain atrophy and shrinkage. That process is accelerated by hearing loss.

The flip side of the coin is true, also. As damage to the brain increases someone who has dementia will have a decline in their hearing even though their hearing is normal.

Mumps

At an early age the viral infection mumps can cause children to lose their hearing. Hearing loss may impact both ears or only one side. The reason that this happens is that the cochlea of the inner ear is damaged by the virus. It’s the component of the ear that sends messages to the brain. The good thing is mumps is pretty scarce these days due to vaccinations. Not everyone who gets the mumps will experience hearing loss.

Chronic Ear Infections

For most people, the occasional ear infection is not very risky as treatment clears it up. However, the tiny bones of the inner ear or the eardrum can take serious damage from constantly recurring ear infections. This type of hearing loss is known as conductive, and it means that sound cannot reach the inner ear with enough force, so no messages are transmitted 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 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.

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