February 6, 2023
Diabetes and Hearing Loss
Diabetes is defined as a disorder where the body has high blood sugar due to abnormal insulin levels. Insulin is what regulates blood sugar levels and without the right amount of insulin; the body is unable to process carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Those who have diabetes know the importance and understand the health concerns of vision, kidneys, nerves and blood flow. But what tends to be overlooked due to the slow and gradual decline is hearing loss.
With 332 million people living in the United States, about 30 million people have diabetes and 35 million have a hearing loss. Those who have diabetes are twice as likely to have a hearing loss compared to those without. The 84 million individuals who are prediabetic are 30% more likely to notice early onset of hearing loss as to those with normal glucose levels. As age related hearing loss is a probability, those with diabetes could increase those chances of noticing hearing loss earlier than expected. Especially those with untreated and uncontrolled glucose levels.
Though more research is needed to find the correlation between diabetes and hearing loss, it can be suspected that with high blood sugar levels that affects vision and kidneys can be hypothesized to do the same damage to hearing. With high glucose levels, damage to the nerve that carries information from the body organs to the brain and blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to our organs could potentially have the same affect to the inner ear as it does to the eyes and kidneys especially those with uncontrolled blood sugar levels.
Though age related hearing loss could be a factor, those with diabetes tend to be at a higher risk of noticing a earlier onset of hearing loss. Like every hearing loss, this process happens slowly and the signs can often go unnoticed. It is highly recommended that those with diabetes have a hearing evaluation done to rule out hearing loss even when signs are not present.
If a hearing evaluation hasn't been considered, consider the following to evaluate the need to schedule a hearing evaluation:
- Have you noticed a change in your hearing?
- Has your family and friends noticed any changes?
- Is there difficulty following conversation with more than 2 people?
- Is it difficult to hear in noisy situations? or even in quiet?
- Do you ask people to repeat themselves frequently?
- Do others notice that the tv is too loud? Or do you perceive others as mumbling?
If you answered yes to any of the above, think about getting your hearing evaluated. By knowing if a hearing loss is present, the hearing professional will help in explaining the severity and type of hearing loss and what options could be put in place to decrease the risk of untreated hearing loss. Gaining knowledge and understanding is essential to increase the quality of life. If the evaluation results show normal hearing, it is recommended to re-evaluate every two years. Those who have diabetes, please consider adding a hearing care professional to your diabetic team to ensure all measures are covered.
American Diabetes Association. (2019). Diabetes and Hearing Loss. Retrieved from American Diabetes Association: https://diabetes.org/diabetes/diabetes-and-hearing-loss
CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION.(2022). DIABETES AND HEARING LOSS. RETRIEVED FROM CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/diabetes-hearing-loss.html#:~:text=The%20Diabetes%20and%20Hearing%20Loss%20Connection&text=Over%20time%2C%20high%20blood%20sugar,can%20lead%20to%20hearing%20loss.