11 Surprising Conditions Linked with Hearing Loss

Hearing loss on physician tablet
Hearing loss is often linked to noise exposure. Noise exposure is one of the leading causes of permanent hearing loss. There are many health conditions that are also linked with hearing loss. Hearing loss may be a result of the condition or have an unknown association with it. Know your risk factors. Talk with your physician about a hearing test if you have any of these conditions.

Acoustic neuroma

An acoustic neuroma is a type of noncancerous, slow-growing tumor. The tumor develops on the main nerve in the inner ear to the brain. This influences hearing and balance.
 
An acoustic neuroma can cause gradual hearing loss in one ear or tinnitus. It can also cause a loss of balance, facial numbness, and fullness in the ears. You will need medical treatment. This can includes monitoring, radiation and surgery.
 
The cause of acoustic neuroma is a faulty gene, but what causes the malfunction is not known. There is a rare genetic disorder—neurofibromatosis type 2—that is the only known risk factor. It accounts for only five percent of tumor cases.

Dementia

Two thirds of people in the U.S. over 70 experience hearing loss. Recent findings have linked hearing loss to cognitive decline and dementia. Hearing loss seems to speed up age-related cognitive decline.
 
There are a few theories on the link, and even the many causes, but no definitive evidence yet. Treating hearing loss may help in warding off dementia and cognitive decline. Treatment includes hearing aids or cochlear implants. Prevention measure against further hearing loss is another treatment option. Hearing loss can also cause social isolation. This is a known factor in the development of dementia.

Diabetes

There is a large overlap of people with diabetes and people with hearing loss. The 84 million adults in the US who are prediabetic have a 30 percent higher rate of hearing loss. That is when compared to those with normal blood glucose levels.
 
A recent study found hearing loss to be twice as common in diabetic people. Hearing loss is prevalent in both type I and type II diabetes. The link between diabetes and hearing loss is not known now. Many relate it to blood vessel damage caused by high levels of blood sugar.

Ear infections (otitis media)

Ear infections come from bacteria or a virus in the middle ear. These infections are usually secondary to a primary upper respiratory illness. These include influenza, a cold, or allergies. Mucus and inflammation with these illnesses cause extra fluids in the middle ear. This leaves it vulnerable to bacterial or viral infection.
 
Children are more susceptible to ear infections than adults. This is due to their narrower eustachian tubes. There are many risk factors for ear infections. Mild hearing loss is common with an ear infection. It can resolve to pre-infection levels after the infection clears up. Persistent infections or fluids in the middle ear can cause permanent hearing loss. Permanent hearing loss can occur with damage to the eardrum or other ear structures.

Head injuries

There are many types of physical head injuries that may cause hearing loss. These include a traumatic brain injury, damage to the middle ear, or a hole or rupture in the eardrum. The degree of hearing loss depends on the type and severity of damage to the head. With head injuries, it is permanent. High-energy impact accidents and sports injuries are head injuries that cause hearing loss.

Heart disease

Heart disease affects the entire population. It is the leading cause of death in the US. It causes 1 in every 4 deaths. About 610,000 people die of heart disease every year in the US. There is a large amount of research dedicated to showing the effect of heart disease on hearing loss. It can also compound existing hearing loss. These can affect both young and older adults.
 
Inner ear hair cells depend on oxygen supplied by blood flow to keep them alive and healthy. If you damage you heart, it may be unable to supply enough blood to the hair cells of the inner ear. The hair cells become damaged and die. This results in permanent hearing loss.
 
Hearing loss treatment depends on the level of damage and may involve hearing aids. Heart disease has many risk factors and most are preventable. Hearing loss can occur over time. You should have your hearing checked often if you have heart disease.

Mèniére’s disease

The cause of this inner ear disease is unknown. Mèniére’s presents with sensorineural hearing loss and dizziness. It could also include tinnitus, pressure or fullness in the ear, and noise sensitivity. The disease often starts when people are between the ages of 30 and 50 and generally affects one ear.
 
Mèniére’s disease is chronic. It needs many treatments to relieve symptoms and lower the long-term effect. Hearing loss is a symptom and comes and goes, but becomes permanent. Treatment depends on the degree of hearing loss and may involve hearing aids.

Meningitis

Bacterial meningitis is a leading cause of acquired deafness, especially in children. Approximately eight percent of patients will experience a degree of permanent hearing loss.
 
In severe meningitis cases, bacteria, toxins, or the immune system get in the inner ear. When this happens, it can damage the hair cells or nerve that leads to the brain. This type of hearing loss is sensorineural. This means that it is permanent. It may occur in one or both ears and may differ in each ear.
 
In children, extra bone growth may occur post-recovery. This may make hearing loss worse. A hearing test is necessary after recovery. If there is hearing loss, you will need follow-ups. This is to determine proper treatment. If you need hearing aids, they will let you know.

Mumps

Mumps is a viral infection most seen in children. Mumps causes the salivary glands to become inflamed leading to swollen cheeks. Hearing loss is a side effect of mumps. It is permanent as the virus damages the hair cells of the inner ear. This causes sensorineural hearing loss. Hearing loss from mumps is rare. Children should receive the mumps vaccine. Mumps is rare in the U.S. due to the MMR vaccine.

Otosclerosis

Otosclerosis is a middle ear disease that makes it harder for the bones in the middle ear to move. This is due to abnormal bone remodeling. When the bones cannot vibrate, sound cannot travel through the ear.
 
New and healthy bone tissue replaces old tissue throughout a person’s lifetime. Abnormal remodeling causes conductive hearing loss. This disrupts the ability of sound to travel from the middle to inner ear.
 
Hearing loss due to otosclerosis usually starts in one ear and the moves to the other ear. Dizziness, tinnitus and balance problems are also common. This affects more than three million people in the US. The most common group includes white, middle-aged women. Otosclerosis can be hereditary. No drug treatment exists. Hearing aids may help with mild cases, but surgery is usually required to correct the problem.

Paget’s disease of bone

Like otosclerosis, Paget’s disease can interfere with the body’s natural bone process. The disease causes faster than normal new bone generation. This rapid bone growth causes weaker and softer bones. This results in bone pain, fractures, and deformities. If Paget’s disease affects the skull, hearing loss may result. The risk of Paget’s disease increases with age. There are other risk factors as well. Surgery may be necessary.