It’s no secret that hearing loss and diabetes are two grave health concerns among Americans; in fact, about 30 million people in the United States suffer from diabetes—and nearly 35 million have some form of hearing loss. Coincidence? Not likely. Recent studies have shown that there is a meaningful connection between people with diabetes and their inherent likelihood of developing hearing loss as a result.
Diabetes and Hearing Loss
Specifically, a longitudinal study of 139,909 women found that those with diabetes are more likely to develop hearing loss than those who do not have diabetes. In other work it is hypothesized that the connection between diabetes and hearing loss has something to do with the effect that elevated blood glucose levels can have on the small blood vessels in the inner ear. Specifically, it is believed that these blood vessels can be damaged over time, which can result in gradual but permanent hearing loss—similar to the way diabetes can affect the eyesight and other parts of the body. Still, further research will need to be done to prove this connection.
Preventing Hearing Loss if You Have Diabetes
If you or someone you know has diabetes and is worried about hearing loss, the good news is that there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk. The single most important means of preventing hearing loss caused by diabetes is to manage your diabetes properly. This means taking the steps needed to control your blood sugar levels on a daily basis. Furthermore, diabetics should also follow their doctor’s recommendations when it comes to reducing hypertension and managing their weight. Daily exercise and a healthy diet, for instance, can go a long way in reducing the chances of developing hearing loss due to diabetes.
And of course, it’s important to be aware of the common signs of hearing loss, which include:
- constantly asking people to repeat themselves
- complaints that you listen to the TV or radio too loudly
- difficulty following or understanding conversations
If you or a loved one suffers from diabetes and is experiencing signs of hearing loss, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with our team today. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have and find an appointment date and time that suits your schedule.
Shruti Gupta, Roland D. Eavey, Molin Wang, Sharon G. Curhan, Gary C. Curhan
Diabetologia. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2019 May 1.
Published in final edited form as: Diabetologia. 2019 Feb; 62(2): 281–285. Published online 2018 Nov 6. doi: 10.1007/s00125-018-4766-0