While hearing loss is usually attributed to old age or noise exposure, there are many other possible causes. In fact, hearing loss is linked to a number of chronic and acute diseases. Knowing which ones have an association with hearing loss will help you take action should you start noticing symptoms.
Heart disease includes conditions such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease. All of these conditions make it difficult for your heart to pump blood throughout the body, including your inner ears. Inside the inner ear are tiny hair cells called stereocilia, which convert soundwaves into electrical energy that the brain interprets as sound. When these cells don’t receive enough blood flow, they can become damaged. And once damaged, they do not regenerate.
Diabetes is a condition marked by blood sugar levels that are too high. The disease affects about 30 million people in the U.S. Studies show that people with diabetes are twice as likely to develop hearing loss as those without. Researchers theorize that this is due to damage to the blood vessels in the inner ear, the same way heart disease causes damage.
Also known as the flu, influenza causes fever, fatigue, body aches and more. What many don’t know is that influenza is associated with both temporary and permanent hearing loss. The flu causes fluid buildup in the tubes in the ears, causing pressure and making sounds feel muffled. In most cases, the fluid goes away once you recover, but some cases can affect the hearing organs directly; if not treated promptly, hearing loss can become permanent.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The cause can be viral, bacterial, fungal or parasitic, and some cases are life-threatening if not treated right away. One of the main side-effects, especially for children, is hearing loss. This is due to inflammation affecting the auditory nerve, which connects the inner ear to the brain. It is estimated that 10 percent of children who have meningitis experience permanent hearing loss afterward.
For more information about the causes of hearing loss or to schedule an appointment, contact the experts at San Diego Hearing Center.