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Hearing Loss

Common conditions associated with acquired hearing loss

  1. Age-related hearing loss contributes to the acceleration of cognitive and physical decline in adults.

  2. Hearing loss imposes a heavy social and economic burden on individuals, families, and communities, as a hearing loss isolates people.

  3. Patients with a history of depression, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and dementia should have their hearing screened annually.”


  1. High blood glucose levels can cause damage to small blood vessels in the inner ear (similar to how diabetes damages vision and kidney function)

  2. Hearing Loss is twice as common in diabetics

  3. Of those over 60 with diabetes, 54% have hearing loss

Heart Disease

  1. “The inner ear is so sensitive to blood flow that it is possible that abnormalities in the cardiovascular system could be noted [in the ear] earlier than in other less sensitive parts of the body.“ David R. Friedland, Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences at Medical College of Wisconsin.

  2. Inadequate blood flow to the inner ear can cause trauma to blood vessels in the inner ear.

  3. Hearing loss is 54% more common in those with heart disease .


As hearing declines with age, the average change in hearing thresholds per decade is significantly greater in those with high blood pressure as compared to normal hearing subjects (C. Sreenivas, 2011).


  1. Adversely affects heart health and consequently can damage hearing.

  2. Smokers are 2X more likely to have hearing loss.

  3. 46% of those exposed to second‐hand smoke have hearing loss

Cognitive Decline

  1. Adults with untreated hearing loss are more likely to develop problems thinking and remembering, than adults whose hearing is normal.

  2. Degraded hearing may force the brain to devote too much of its energy to processing sound.

  3. Those with untreated hearing loss experience a 30-40% greater decline in thinking abilities compared to those without hearing loss
    (Lin F et al, 2013, Hearing loss and cognitive decline in older adults. JAMA Intern Med.173,4; 293-299).

  4. Adults with untreated hearing loss develop a significant impairment in their cognitive abilities 3.2 years earlier than those with normal hearing.

 Kidney Disease

  1. Structural and functional similarities between tissues in the inner ear and kidneys.

  2. Toxins accumulated with kidney failure can damage nerves – including those in the inner ear.

  3. Incidences of 20‐87% have been reported.

Thyroid Disease

  1. Ear development and function is dependent on thyroid hormones.

  2. Approximately half of people with hypothyroidism have hearing loss


  1. Chronic dyslipidemia associated with elevated triglycerides may reduce auditory function (Journal of Otolaryngology‐Neurology, 2006).

  2. As hearing declines with age, the average change in hearing thresholds per decade is significantly greater in those with high cholesterol as compared to normal hearing subjects (Sreenivas, 2011).


Known ototoxic drugs include:

1.    Aspirin (8-12 pills per day)

2.    Quinine (Gin and tonic, anyone?)

3.    Loop diuretics (or “water pills”)  (furosemide, ethacrynic acid, bumetanide)

4.    Certain high dose antibiotics (especially aminoglycosides, such as gentamicin, streptomycin, and neomycin).

5.    Some anaesthetics

6.    Some anti-cancer treatments (cisplatin and carboplatin).

7.    Environmental chemicals such as hexane (a solvent), mercury and carbon monoxide



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