The relationship between hearing loss and diabetes has been hotly debated for a long time and research now concludes that hearing loss is more frequent in adults with diabetes.
A study carried out included data from participants with an age range from 20 to 69 and the information found concludes:
⦁ People with diabetes were twice more likely to have hearing loss than people without
⦁ People who are pre-diabetic are 30% more likely to have hearing loss
There have been other studies to support these results.
So why is there a link between diabetes and hearing loss and what can people with diabetes do to protect their hearing?
Well in short, we don’t know precisely but some researchers believe that diabetes damages the hearing nerves. High blood sugars can damage nerves throughout your body. This is known as diabetic neuropathy, which often occurs in your feet and legs.
The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy vary from person to person and may be mild or debilitating, they include numbness in your legs and feet or problems with other areas of the body such as your digestive system and heart. Researchers think that this same damage may be happening to the hearing nerve.
Another theory is that high blood sugars may damaged the very tiny vessels that support and feed the inner ear, in a similar way to how high blood sugars affect vision and kidney function. The blood vessel systems are similar and as the system is damaged hearing is compromised.
You can see the common denominator in all this is high blood sugar levels.
Can a diabetic do anything to protect against hearing loss?
We do know that people who can control their blood sugar are less likely to have their hearing affected. Following a medication and diet treatment plan is vital to hearing protection for those with diabetes.
It is well documented that as a person’s hearing decreases the chances of social isolation and depression increases. A person with diabetes who is also isolated and depressed may struggle more with their treatment plans and managing their blood sugars. It is therefore important to keep an eye on symptoms of hearing loss as well as depression and social isolation.
Have regular hearing checks
Whether or not you think you have hearing loss, it is advised that if you have diabetes you should have a hearing check as soon as possible. Going forward a yearly test is then recommended. Just like your vision, your hearing can be stable for a long time then shift quickly over a short period of time. Therefore, regular monitoring, just like we do with our vision is crucial so that the right treatment can be put in place should your hearing start to change.
If you already have symptoms of hearing loss, don’t delay making an appointment to have your hearing checked, as the sooner we can treat the hearing loss, the less impact this will have on your quality of life.
It is important to know that you are not going through it alone, together we can help keep you connected with the hearing world.