Hearing loss is very common. Hearing loss happens for many reasons we are familiar with the common causes of that.
The 2 most common causes of Sensorineural Hearing loss (SNHL) are —
- Old age, and
- Exposure to loud sound.
There are many other causes that are not related to the ear but can also cause Hearing loss.
1. How can Diabetes Cause Hearing Loss?
It is scientifically proven that Diabetes does play a role in Hearing Loss.
The chances of Hearing loss are 50% higher in people suffering from Diabetes. People with diabetes normally suffer from Sensorineural Hearing loss (SNHL).
Pre-Diabetics have a 30% higher chance of suffering from Sensorineural Hearing loss. Pre-Diabetics are people who do not suffer from diabetes but are on the borderline.
Diabetes and Hearing Loss —
A connection has been established by various research between Diabetes and Sensorineural Hearing loss.
Continuous high levels of blood glucose (chronic hyperglycemia) or deranged blood sugar levels are the primary reason.
Hyperglycemia cause Microangiopathy.
Microangiopathy causes the very tiny blood vessels to break which results in the thickening of some blood vessels’ walls which results in restriction of the blood flow to the parts supplied by these tiny blood vessels or arteries.
Our ear is one such organ that is fed by small blood vessels. The restricted blood supply damages the delicate Hair cells causing Sensorineural Hearing loss. Similarly, this is how Diabetes affects the kidneys and the eyes.
There are high chances of hearing loss in people who suffer from diabetes compared to people of the same age who don’t have diabetes.
Even people at the prediabetes stage (which means blood sugar levels higher than normal but not high enough to have type 2 diabetes) have a 30% higher rate of hearing loss compared to people with normal blood sugar levels.
2. How does Heart Disease cause Hearing Loss?
There has been a well-established link between Heart disease and Hearing loss for years.
People suffering from heart disease have 54% higher chances of having Sensorineural Hearing loss.
Hearing Loss and Heart Disease —
In the Inner ear, there is the cochlea which contains the delicate hair cells which help us to hear.
The tiny blood vessels supply oxygen-rich blood to the cochlea to keep it healthy. In heart diseases, the pumping action of the heart is reduced. And the heart does not have the capacity to work harder to pump blood.
The Cochlea connected does not get enough blood by tiny blood vessels if the pumping action of the heart is not enough which results in damage to the Hair cells of the cochlea resulting in Sensorineural Hearing loss.
Improving cardiovascular health has been shown to reduce your risk of hearing loss.
3. How Does a Thyroid Disease Cause Hearing Loss?
The Thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck that produces hormones in our body and controls energy and metabolism.
There are various conditions that can target the thyroid and impair its function. If a person suffers from a Thyroid disease, there will be reduced production of hormones, which is medically known as Hypothyroidism.
The thyroid gland secretes a hormone known as Thyroxine, which is responsible for the development of the Cochlea.
Thyroid Gland and Hearing Loss —
Thyroxine hormone helps the Cochlea during the development stage and thereafter.
Thyroxine also helps in protecting against Noise Induced Hearing loss.
Both Hypothyroidism (reduced production of hormones), as well as Hyperthyroidism (excessive production of hormones), cause Sensorineural Hearing loss.
Hearing loss symptoms may vary from person to person but present as —
- Ringing in the ears,
- A feeling of pressure or fullness in the ears,
- Slurred speech or like they are mumbling,
- Difficulty hearing higher-pitched sounds or
- Vertigo/dizziness, and experiencing a feeling of being off-balance.
A healthy diet is important for people suffering from thyroid disease.
Iodine, Vitamins A and D, and minerals like Selenium and Iron help to maintain a healthy Thyroid and should be included in daily diet.
4. How does Chronic Kidney Disease Cause Hearing Loss?
It is well-established that Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) causes Sensorineural Hearing loss. There is a 54% higher chance of Hearing loss in people suffering from CKD. The reason is that the Kidneys are very similar in terms of structure and functions to our Inner ear.
Chronic Kidney Disease and Hearing Loss —
The Kidneys help to clean up the toxins in our body.
The Toxins gets accumulated in the body if the kidneys are not functioning normally which damages the sensitive nerves in the Inner ear.
The kidney and cochlea have similar physiologic mechanisms involving the transport of fluid and electrolytes, which might explain hearing loss in patients with kidney disease. The tissue structure in the kidneys is similar to the inner ear. The elements which are damaging the kidney tissue also cause damage to the ear tissue.
Electrolyte imbalance is also a cause of Sensorineural Hearing loss.
Certain medicines used for the treatment of CKD are harmful or ototoxic to the ear.
5. How does Influenza Cause Hearing Loss?
People sniffling and sneezing during winter are commonly seen.
Influenza, commonly known as FLU can also cause hearing loss. Flu is a virus that affects sinuses and the ears both.
In a majority of cases, flu causes reversible Conductive hearing loss.
Influenza and Hearing Loss —
The early signs of flu are a runny nose, headaches, sore throat, coughing, and fever.
Flu causes congestion and collection of fluids in the Middle ear and the Eustachian tube.
There is a reduction in hearing ability and sensation of a blocked ear. The congestion in the middle ear does not allow the sound waves to travel to the inner ear.
Proper treatment can clear the infection and restore hearing.
Severe infective cases affect the inner parts of the ear. The sensitive nerves can get affected by the infection resulting in the damaging of nerves which causes Sensorineural Hearing loss. This type of loss is permanent in nature.
You need to consult your doctor if the hearing ability is not normal within a day or two of the flu being cured.
6. How does Hypertension Cause Hearing Loss?
Hypertension is one of the major causes of mortality and morbidity worldwide. It affects various systems in our body.
Hypertension or high Blood pressure does cause Hearing loss. Hearing loss is a hidden disability affecting about 360 million people worldwide based on WHO estimates.
As the blood pressure rises, the hearing ability is reduced. Hearing loss is aggravated or increased in cases of chronic high blood pressure. Experiments have shown that lowering blood pressure improves hearing ability.
Hearing Loss and Hypertension
High blood pressure puts additional pressure on the walls of the vessels carrying blood. This additional pressure damages the blood-carrying vessels or the arteries.
These tiny vessels supply fresh oxygenated blood to the sensitive part of our ears.
Damage to these arteries can cause a reduction of blood supply which more commonly leads to Sensorineural Hearing loss.
Decreased blood circulation causes —-
- Decreased oxygen supply to the cochlea,
- Increased formation of free radicals,
- Increased loss of ear cells, and
- Disturbed recycling of the ions.
Therefore, all these factors result in malfunctioning of the inner ear, resulting in hearing loss and tinnitus. It is important to keep blood pressure under control.
7. How Can Obesity Cause Hearing Loss?
Though awareness about a healthy lifestyle is spreading, Obesity still remains a major problem.
The main cause of Obesity is the current lifestyle. Though remote control, Apps, automation, and fast food have made life easy, it has also reduced our physical activity. It is a sign of poor health and can cause Hearing loss.
Obesity and Hearing Loss —
Obesity does not directly affect Hearing loss, but it can certainly increase the chances of Hearing loss.
The heart pumps blood to each and every organ in the body. Blood reaches our inner ear through small arteries and capillaries.
In an obese person, the heart needs to work harder to deliver blood to the smallest organ. Over a period of time, the pumping action of the heart is reduced which results in a gradual reduction of blood supply to the smaller organs.
The reduction in blood supply to the inner ear causes the hair cells damage. This reduces the total number of active hair cells resulting in Sensorineural Hearing loss.
Obesity is responsible for Heart disease and diabetes which further damage the hearing.
A healthy lifestyle is very important. Do find time to take care of your body.
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