Diabetes & Other Health Conditions That Can Cause Hearing Loss

Woman with diabetes thinking about hearing loss.

Studies show 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 could surprise you. In 2010, 1.9 million people were diagnosed with diabetes and close to 500,000 of them were under the age of 44. Evidence shows that 250,000 of those younger people with the disease probably have some form of hearing loss.

A person’s hearing can be damaged by several diseases other than diabetes. Apart from the obvious factor of aging, what is the connection between these diseases and hearing loss? These conditions that cause hearing loss should be taken into consideration.


It is uncertain why people who have diabetes have a higher chance of hearing loss or even if diabetes is related to hearing loss, but the clinical research does point in that direction. People with prediabetes, a condition that implies they might 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 understand why this happens. It is feasible that harm to the blood vessels that feed the inner ear may be triggered by high glucose levels. Diabetes is known to influence circulation, so that is a realistic assumption.


This infectious disease causes hearing loss. Meningitis by definition is inflammation of the membranes that cover the spinal cord and brain, normally due to infection. Studies show that 30 percent of people who have this condition will also lose their hearing, either in part or in full. 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 method to interpret sound if it doesn’t get these signals.

Cardiovascular Disease

Conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels are covered under the umbrella term “cardiovascular disease”. This category contains these common diseases:

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

Age related hearing loss is generally associated with cardiovascular diseases. The inner ear is subject to damage. Damage to the inner ear causes hearing loss when there is a change in blood flow and it doesn’t receive 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. However, this connection might be a coincidence. Kidney disease and other ailments associated with high blood pressure or diabetes have lots of the same risk factors.

Toxins that collect in the blood due to kidney failure could also be the culprit, theoretically. The connection that the nerves have with the brain might be closed off because of damage to the ear by these toxins.


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

It also works the other way around. 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 is a viral infection that can cause children to lose their hearing early in life. Loss of hearing may affect both ears or only one side. The reason that this happens is that the cochlea of the inner ear is damaged by the virus. Signals are sent to the brain by this portion of the ear. The positive thing is, due to vaccination mumps are fairly rare nowadays. Not everyone who gets the mumps will experience hearing loss.

Chronic Ear Infections

For most people, the random ear infection is not very risky as treatment clears it up. For some, however, infection after infection take a toll on the tiny components that are required for hearing like the eardrum or the small bones in the middle ear. When sound cannot reach the inner ear with enough energy to deliver messages to the brain it’s called conductive hearing loss. Infections can also cause a sensorineural hearing loss, which means nerve damage.

Prevention is the key to avoiding many of the diseases that can cost you your hearing. 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.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.