Recent studies have confirmed that there is a link between diabetes and
hearing loss. In 2008, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that
hearing loss is twice as common in people who have diabetes.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), nearly 35 million
people in the United States have some form of hearing loss; many of them have either
diabetes or prediabetes. The ADA states, “Of the 79 million adults thought to
have pre-diabetes, the rate of hearing loss is 30 percent higher than in those
with normal blood sugar.”
In a pivotal 2008 NIH study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine,
researchers analyzed data from hearing tests of adults between the ages of 20
and 69. They concluded that diabetes may contribute to hearing loss by damaging
nerves and blood vessels—this damage was seen in autopsy studies. Similar
studies have shown a possible link between that hearing loss and neuropathy
Causes of Hearing
Loss With Diabetes
experts aren’t entirely sure how diabetes is related to hearing loss. It's
possible that the high blood glucose levels associated with diabetes cause
damage to the small blood vessels in the inner ear, similar to the way diabetes
can damage the eyes and the kidneys. But more research needs to be done to
discover why people with diabetes have a higher rate of hearing loss.
Symptoms of Hearing
Hearing loss can be so gradual that you may not notice it. Children and
adults can experience hearing loss at any time. Don’t think that you’re too
young to be losing your hearing. Ask yourself the following questions if you
think you might be at risk for hearing loss:
- Have your friends or family members complained that
you’re not listening?
- Do you frequently ask people to repeat themselves?
- Do you complain that people are always mumbling?
- Do you have problems following conversations with more
than two people?
- Have people complained that you listen to the
television or radio too loudly?
- Do you have trouble understanding conversations in
crowded rooms or loud or busy restaurants?
If you answered yes to more than one of those questions, you should have
your hearing tested immediately to assess the existing loss and prevent further
Treating Diabetes-Related Hearing Loss
All people with diabetes should have their hearing checked each year.
The best way to avoid complications caused by diabetes is to closely monitor
your blood glucose levels, reduce hypertension, keep off excess weight, and exercise
daily. Also, keep in mind that the
long-term use of earphones set on the loudest volume can contribute greatly to
hearing loss, especially if you’re already at risk.