8 Alarming Conditions That Can Cause Hearing Loss
In honor of World Health Day , it is a good time to talk about health conditions that can cause hearing loss. Now causation and correlation are different but each of these conditions below has studies to back up a strong link with hearing loss that I believe merits the spotlight. I love to look on the bright side and focus on the positive, but today I’m going to take the opportunity to ring the alarm bells for these possible contributors to hearing loss.
If you have any of the below conditions and have not had your hearing checked, I strongly recommend a checkup. Even if you do not recognize any hearing issues now, it will give us a baseline to compare to future tests. It’s also an encouragement to take care of your overall health and reduce these risk factor that can cause hearing loss.
Conditions that are linked to or can cause hearing loss:
- Cardiovascular disease can cause hardening of the arteries which effects circulation and can therefore cause hearing loss. A Harvard University study found that hearing loss occurred 54% more often in those with hearing loss. Strokes can also cause sudden hearing loss as that restriction of blood flow can harm the delicate hair cells that depend on the blood stream to provide adequate oxygen to keep them healthy and active.
- Diabetes is one of America’s top health concerns and shares a surprising amount of overlap with another top concern, hearing loss. A recent study found that hearing loss is twice as common in diabetics.
- Smoking cigarettes is a known risk factor for hearing loss. In fact, smokers have a 70% greater likelihood of hearing loss than their non-smoking counterparts.
- Anemia is a deficiency of iron in the bloodstream which relates to our first point about cardiovascular health. Those with anemia have a 2.4 times greater risk of both sensorineural hearing loss and a combined sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.
- Falls and head trauma should always be followed up with a hearing exam to be sure no temporary or permanent damage was done to the ears. On the flipside, a Johns Hopkins study found that those with even a mild, untreated hearing loss, are three times more likely to fall than those with hearing within the normal range.
- Ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune disorder that has been linked to progressive hearing loss. Many people who are diagnosed with UC may also have an underlying secondary disease known as autoimmune inner ear disease (AIED). AIED can lead to rapidly progressing hearing loss, fluctuations in hearing, tinnitus, and dizziness.
- Chemotherapy is known to be ototoxic (toxic to the ears), so frequent monitoring of hearing is important for individuals being treated by chemotherapy. A good rule of thumb is to have your hearing screened after every chemotherapy session.
- Meniere’s Disease includes the trifecta of tinnitus (which we treat as well), vertigo and fluctuating hearing loss. Monitoring the loss as it fluctuates and using hearing aids that are capable of being adjusted at home are essential to managing the condition.
Did you know that these common health issues could cause hearing loss? You know these days your primary care physician is wearing so many hats and is so pressed for time that they may have never mentioned these links to you. With healthcare getting more and more disjointed, you may need to do your own research and raise your own alarm. Raise the concern the next time you see them, and go ahead and schedule your own hearing screening to get your baseline done. Our hearing screenings are free at Levine Hearing so nothing is holding you back! Thanks for listening!