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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. If you are a person that associates hearing loss with getting old or noise damage, this could 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 with the disease probably have some form on hearing loss.

A person’s hearing can be impaired by several diseases besides diabetes. Apart from the obvious factor of the aging process, what is the connection between these illnesses and hearing loss? These diseases that lead to hearing loss should be taken into consideration.

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 research 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.

Even though there are some theories, scientists still don’t know why this takes place. It is feasible that high glucose levels may cause damage to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear. Diabetes is known to impact circulation, so that is a reasonable assumption.

Meningitis

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 who develop this condition will also lose their hearing, either partially or completely. Among young people in America, this infection is the second leading cause of hearing loss.

The fragile nerves which send signals to the inner ear are potentially injured by meningitis. The brain has no means to interpret sound if it doesn’t get these signals.

Cardiovascular Disease

Ailments that affect the heart or blood vessels are covered under the umbrella term “cardiovascular disease”. Some typical diseases in this category include:

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

Age related hearing loss is normally linked to cardiovascular diseases. 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 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. It is possible 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 theory is that the toxins that collect in the blood due to kidney failure might be the cause. These toxins may damage the nerves in the inner ear, closing the connection it has with the brain.

Dementia

The link between hearing loss and dementia goes both ways. A person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease seems to be increased by cognitive impairment. Brain shrinkage and atrophy are the causes of dementia. Difficulty hearing can accelerate that process.

The other side of the coin is true, as well. 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

Mumps is a viral infection that can cause children to lose their hearing when they’re very young. The reduction in hearing could be only in one ear or it might affect both ears. The reason why this occurs is the virus damages the cochlea in the inner ear. Signals are sent to the brain by this portion of the ear. The positive thing is, due to vaccination mumps are relatively rare today. Not everyone will experience loss of hearing if they get the mumps.

Chronic Ear Infections

For most individuals, the random ear infection is not very risky as treatment gets rid of it. For some, however, infection after infection take a toll on the tiny pieces that are necessary for hearing such as the eardrum or the small bones in the middle ear. When sound cannot reach the inner ear with enough force to deliver signals to the brain it’s known as conductive hearing loss. 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 cause you to lose 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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