According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), diabetes and hearing loss are two of America’s most common health issues. In fact, the ADA states that research has shown hearing loss frequency in diabetics to be twice as common as that found in non-diabetics.
So, what causes this connection and perhaps more importantly, what can be done about it? Today, we’re going to take a closer look at the current answers to these two questions.
How are diabetes and hearing loss related?
We mentioned that we’d look at the “current” answers to this question. That’s because further research needs to be done to determine the exact cause for hearing loss being more prevalent in diabetics vs. their non-diabetic peers. For now, though, there are two main theories:
- Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage that occurs due to high blood glucose levels. The theory here is that neuropathy negatively affects the auditory nerve which is responsible for hearing. Over time, this nerve damage reduces hearing thresholds and causes a diabetic to experience hearing loss.
- Blood thickening occurs due to the increased sugar in the blood. Medical experts theorize that this thickening gradually damages blood vessels and small capillaries inside the inner ear.
How can you prevent hearing loss if you have diabetes?
First, it’s important to realize that not every case of hearing loss can be prevented. Some causes of hearing loss, such as genetic factors, are outside your control and even that of the medical professionals with whom you collaborate. However, many cases of hearing loss can be prevented simply by managing what you can control.
If you have diabetes, keeping your blood sugar under control is essential for managing the disease’s effects on your hearing as well as your vision and even kidney function. Work closely with your doctor to determine the best way for YOU to keep blood glucose levels within a normal range or only slightly elevated. In addition, eating a nutritious diet and exercising daily are healthy habits that can help anyone live a healthier life and potentially prevent conditions such as hearing loss.
Watch this video to learn more about the diabetes and hearing loss connection and how you can keep healthy hearing by properly managing diabetes:
While the connection between diabetes and hearing loss continues to be studied, there’s one connection that’s absolutely clear … repeated exposure to sounds above 70 dB can lead to noise-induced hearing loss. Whether you have diabetes or not, protect your hearing health by wearing appropriate hearing protection whenever you’re exposed to loud noise.
Routine hearing testing can reveal the diabetes and hearing loss connection.
Regardless of how or why diabetes and hearing loss are related, it’s important to recognize that there is, in fact, a link between the two conditions. While regular hearing tests are recommended for people of any age and condition, it’s especially important for diabetics.
How often should you have your hearing tested? We suggest that you make it an annual occurrence. Since diabetics often have their vision and kidney function checked yearly, why not add an annual hearing evaluation to the list? When hearing changes (even small ones) are detected and treated early on, treatment is often more effective and further hearing loss can sometimes be prevented.
Regardless of when your last hearing test was, learn to recognize these signs of hearing loss and schedule a hearing test if you experience them:
- Frequently asking others to repeat what they’ve said
- Having difficulty understanding conversations in noisy environments
- Finding it challenging to hear voices of women and children
- Accusing other people of mumbling
- Having to turn up the radio or TV when others feel they’re already at a suitable volume
At Advanced Hearing Group, our audiologists are ready to help with any of your hearing health needs. We offer a variety of hearing services at our Mesa and Scottsdale offices and encourage you to schedule an appointment with us to take charge of your hearing health today!