Diabetes & Other Health Conditions That Can Cause Hearing Loss

Woman with diabetes thinking about hearing loss.

Studies indicate that you are twice as likely to suffer from hearing loss if you have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. If you are somebody that associates hearing loss with growing old or noise trauma, this may surprise you. Almost 500,000 of the1.9 million people diagnosed with diabetes in 2010 were below the age of 44. Evidence shows that 250,000 of those younger people who have the disease probably have some form on hearing loss.

A person’s hearing can be damaged by several diseases besides diabetes. Getting old is a considerable aspect both in disease and loss of hearing but what is the connection between these disorders and ear health? These conditions that lead to loss of hearing should be considered.


What the connection is between diabetes and hearing loss is unclear but clinical research seems to indicate there is one. 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.

While there are some theories, researchers still don’t know why this happens. It is feasible that high glucose levels could cause damage to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear. Diabetes is known to affect circulation, so that is a realistic assumption.


This infectious disease causes hearing loss. Meningitis by definition is swelling of the membranes that cover the spinal cord and brain, usually due to infection. Studies show that 30 percent of people will lose their hearing partially or completely if they develop this condition. Among the American youth, this infection is the second leading cause of hearing loss.

The delicate nerves that relay signals to the inner ear are potentially damaged by meningitis. The brain has no method to interpret sound if it doesn’t get these signals.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella name that covers conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels. This category contains these well-known diseases:

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

Normally, cardiovascular diseases tend to be associated with age-related hearing loss. The inner ear is vulnerable to harm. Damage to the inner ear causes hearing loss when there is a change in blood flow and it doesn’t get the oxygen and nutrients that it needs to thrive.

Chronic Kidney Disease

A 2012 study published in The Laryngoscope found that people with this condition also had an increased risk of hearing loss. A separate study found that chance to be as high as 43 percent. It is possible that this connection is a coincidence, though. There are lots of the same risk factors with kidney disease and other conditions connected with high blood pressure.

Another possibility is that the toxins that build-up in the blood due to kidney failure might be the culprit. 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. There is the indication that cognitive impairment increases a person’s chances of getting conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Brain shrinkage and atrophy are the causes of dementia. Difficulty hearing can accelerate that process.

It also works the other way around. Somebody who has dementia even though there is normal hearing will show a decline in their hearing as injury to the brain increases.


Mumps is a viral infection which can cause children to lose their hearing when they’re very young. Loss of hearing may impact both ears or only one side. The reason for this is that the cochlea of the inner ear is damaged by the virus. Messages are sent to the brain by this portion of the ear. The good news is mumps is pretty scarce these days due to vaccinations. Not everyone will suffer from 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 most people. For some, though, repeated infections take a toll on the tiny pieces that are required for hearing like the eardrum or the small bones in the middle ear. When sound cannot get to the inner ear with enough force to deliver messages to the brain it’s known as conductive hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss or nerve damage can also be caused by infections.

Many of the illnesses that can cause 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.

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