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Woman with diabetes thinking about hearing loss.

Studies indicate that people who have diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from hearing loss, according to the American Diabetes Association. This statistic is surprising for those who think of hearing loss as a condition associated with growing old or noise trauma. Close to 500,000 of the1.9 million people diagnosed with diabetes in 2010 were under the age of 44. Evidence shows that 250,000 of those younger people who have the disease probably suffer from some form on hearing loss.

The thing is that diabetes is only one of several diseases which can cost a person their hearing. Getting old is a major factor both in illness and hearing loss but what is the connection between these conditions and ear health? These illnesses that lead to loss of hearing should be taken into consideration.

Diabetes

What the link is between diabetes and hearing loss is uncertain but clinical research seems to suggest there is one. People with prediabetes, a condition that implies they might 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 conclusive reason as to why this happens, 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 hearing loss. Because of infection, the membranes that cover the spine and brain become inflamed and that defines meningitis. Studies show that 30 percent of people who develop this condition will also lose their hearing, either in part or in full. This infection is the second most common reason for hearing loss in the American youth.

Meningitis has the potential to harm the fragile nerves that allow the inner ear to forward signals to the brain. The brain has no method to interpret sound if it doesn’t get these signals.

Cardiovascular Disease

Ailments that impact the heart or blood vessels are covered under the umbrella term “cardiovascular disease”. This category contains these well-known diseases:

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

Normally, cardiovascular diseases tend to be associated with age-related hearing loss. Damage can easily happen to the inner ear. When there is a change in blood flow, it might 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 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 lots 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 to blame, 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. There is the indication that cognitive impairment increases a person’s risk of developing conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia occurs due to brain atrophy and shrinkage. That process is accelerated by hearing loss.

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

Mumps

Early in life the viral infection mumps can cause children to lose their hearing. The decrease in hearing could be only in one ear or it could impact both ears. The reason for this is that the cochlea of the inner ear is damaged by the virus. It’s the component of the ear that sends signals to the brain. The good news is mumps is pretty scarce nowadays due to vaccinations. Not everyone who has the mumps will suffer from hearing loss.

Chronic Ear Infections

Treatment gets rid of the random ear infection so it’s not very risky for most people. However, the small bones of the inner ear or the eardrum can be seriously damaged by constantly recurring ear infections. This type of hearing loss is known as conductive, and it means that sound cannot get to the inner ear with enough energy, so no signals are sent to the brain. Sensorineural hearing loss or nerve damage can also be caused by infections.

Prevention is the key to steering clear of many of the diseases 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.

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