Diabetes & Other Health Conditions That Can Cause Hearing Loss

Woman with diabetes thinking about hearing loss.

Studies reveal that you are twice as likely to struggle with hearing loss if you have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. That might surprise those of you who automatically associate hearing loss with getting old or noise damage. In 2010, 1.9 million people were diagnosed with diabetes and almost 500,000 of them were below the age of 44. Evidence reveals that 250,000 of those younger people who have the disease likely suffer from some form on hearing loss.

The thing is that diabetes is only one in many illnesses that can cost a person their hearing. The aging process is a significant factor both in illness and hearing loss but what is the link 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 evidence appears to suggest there is one. A condition that suggests a person may 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 definitive answer as to why this occurs, there are some theories. It is feasible that damage to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear could be triggered by high glucose levels. Diabetes is known to impact circulation, so that is a reasonable assumption.


This infectious disease causes hearing loss. Meningitis by definition is inflammation 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 in part or in full if they get this condition. This infection is the second most common reason for hearing loss among American young people.

Meningitis has the potential to damage the fragile nerves which permit the inner ear to forward signals to the brain. The brain has no method to interpret sound without these signals.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella label that relates to ailments that affect the heart or blood vessels. This category contains these common diseases:

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

Usually, cardiovascular diseases have a tendency to be associated with age-related hearing loss. The inner ear is vulnerable to injury. 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 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 possible that this connection is a coincidence, though. There are many of the same risk factors with kidney disease and other ailments associated with high blood pressure.

Toxins that build up in the blood as a result of kidney failure may also be to blame, theoretically. The connection that the nerves have with the brain may 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 appears to be increased by cognitive impairment. Dementia comes about due to brain atrophy and shrinkage. Trouble hearing can accelerate that process.

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


Early in life the viral infection mumps can cause children to lose their hearing. The reduction in hearing may be only on one side or it might affect both ears. The reason why this happens is the virus damages the cochlea in the inner ear. It’s the component of the ear that sends signals to the brain. The positive thing is, due to vaccination mumps are relatively rare nowadays. Not everyone who gets the mumps will suffer from hearing loss.

Chronic Ear Infections

Treatment clears up the occasional ear infection so it’s not very risky for the majority of people. However, the little bones of the inner ear or the eardrum can be seriously damaged by constantly recurring ear infections. When sound cannot reach the inner ear with enough force to send messages to the brain it’s called conductive hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss or nerve damage can also be caused by infections.

Many of the diseases that can cause hearing loss can be avoided by prevention. 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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