Diabetes and Hearing Loss — A connection you shouldn’t take lightly
Diabetes and hearing loss each affect close to 10% of the U.S. population or 30 million people. Those are big numbers, and recent research suggests there may be a correlation between the two.
If your blood sugar is poorly controlled, you are at increased risk of hearing loss
Japanese researchers looked at 13 prior studies from 1974-2011 (an observational study) that examined diabetes and hearing loss.
Diabetics were found to be 2.15 times more likely to have hearing loss compared to non-diabetics. And those under the age of 60 with hearing loss were found to be 2.61 times more likely to have diabetes—an important relationship for sure.
84 million Americans are prediabetic; a condition that places your blood sugar higher than normal but not quite high enough for you to be classified as diabetic. 30% of these patients suffer from hearing loss too!
How are diabetes and hearing loss related?
Diabetes is a disease where the body either doesn’t make insulin, or the insulin released does not have the right timing, amount and effectiveness for your blood sugar. It’s a complex process that affects almost every organ system in the body and is very important in keeping us healthy.
Signs and symptoms of diabetes
- Hunger and fatigue – If you’re not making insulin, or it’s not working, the sugar in your blood can’t get into your cells. This will cause you to be tired and want to eat more to try and get sugar into your cells, which can’t happen.
- You have to pee more often – Since your kidneys can’t absorb all that sugar, your body tries to get rid of it
- Dry & Itchy skin – Peeing frequently leads to dehydration, and your skin and mucus membranes become dry
- Blurred vision
- Poor wound healing
- Numbness and tingling – Nerve damage often begins with numbness and tingling in the feet, also known as neuropathy
- Nausea and vomiting
It is clear that diabetes can damage the entire body, including nerves and blood vessels. While we’re not exactly sure how diabetes affects hearing loss specifically, we think that the high levels of sugar damage blood vessels and nerves that support our hearing.
Our ears are supplied with blood, oxygen, and nutrients by small blood vessels. When these are damaged, our hearing is affected. This type of hearing loss is known as presbycusis—a sensorineural bilateral high-frequency hearing loss that is progressive and permanent.
Presbycusis detection and intervention is quick and easy
The good news is that both diabetes and hearing loss can be detected quickly and easily. Early detection and intervention can make a very big difference in your hearing—something that can’t be emphasized enough! A visit to your audiologist makes all the difference when it comes to your ears and your health.