Hearing loss and disease

Other chronic diseases linked to hearing loss

Research has shown that hearing loss can be linked with health problems as diverse as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and depression. If you or someone you know has any of these conditions, it is recommended to have your hearing checked regularly.

Heart disease

Good circulation is important for all organs and systems within the body, including your hearing. Without adequate blood flow, the delicate cells within the cochlea, as well as the rest of the inner ear, may not function correctly. Reduced circulation results in inadequate oxygen levels, which can cause damage and hearing loss. Studies have seen that the inner ear is one of the first parts of the body to be affected by heart disease, making hearing loss a sign of potential issues in some people.

Diabetes

New research is exploring a link between diabetes and hearing loss. Those suffering from diabetes are generally more likely to experience hearing loss than those without the condition. It’s been theorised that as unmonitored blood sugar levels can damage nerves throughout the body, the same happens to the nerves within the ear, or that because high blood sugars can damage small blood vessels, impacting systems such as vision and kidney function, the blood vessels within the ear can be damaged too.

Kidney disease

Much like the link between diabetes and hearing loss, there also appears to be a relationship between kidney disease and hearing loss. The risk of hearing loss in kidney disease patients is thought to be higher than that of the general public due to the medications used to treat the illness and the accumulation of toxins that can damage nerves, including those within the ears. Similarities in the structure and function of the tissue found within the kidney and the inner ear mean that the two are impacted in much the same way.

Alzheimer’s disease

Hearing loss and Alzheimer’s disease are thought to have quite a significant relationship, with those suffering hearing loss, even its milder forms, more likely to develop the disease. Although the connection is yet to be formally confirmed, it’s believed that hearing loss may lead the brain to work differently, leaving it overwhelmed and overcompensating for the function that has been lost. Without functioning hearing, people may also be left socially isolated, removing the stimulation that helps to keep brains healthy and prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Depression

People with hearing loss are more likely to experience depression than the general public. Hearing loss makes it harder for people to engage in social situations, can take the enjoyment out of songs, TV shows and time with friends, and can result in high levels of anxiety around missing important information in conversations. These situations can lead to feelings of social isolation, stress and fatigue, which may result in depression in the long term.

If you have been diagnosed with any of the above we recommend having your hearing tested.