Diabetes and Hearing Loss

After much debate about the effect of diabetes on hearing, recent research has now concluded that hearing loss is more prevalent in adults with the condition. It has been discovered from a variety of research, studying participants whose ages range from 20 to 69 years, that people with diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing loss than people without and those who are pre-diabetic are 30% more likely to have hearing loss. So, why is there a link between hearing loss and diabetes? And how can diabetics manage their hearing health to protect their hearing?

Why does diabetes effect hearing health?

The exact reason why diabetes is a risk factor for hearing loss is unknown. Some researchers believe that diabetes damages the hearing nerves. Nerve damage in someone who has diabetes is common as high blood sugars effect nerves throughout the body (known as diabetic neuropathy) and is most commonly experienced in feet and legs, as well as the digestive system and heart. Researchers believe that this same damaging neuropathy process may also be happening to the hearing nerve which is why hearing loss is more prevalent when diabetes is also present. Alternatively, some researchers think that high blood sugars damage the very small blood vessels that support and feed the inner ear; in a similar way to how high blood sugars can affect vision and kidney function. Either way high blood sugar is a determining factor when looking for a correlation between diabetes and hearing loss.

Diabetics and preventing hearing loss

As it has been established, the main cause of hearing damage is high blood sugars and so the better that people are at controlling their blood sugar, the less likely it will be that diabetes will affect their hearing. Therefore, following medical and dietary plans are essential for those with diabetes, not only to maintain good general health, but to protect against hearing loss. It is also important to consider that as a person’s hearing decreases, they can become lonely and increasingly isolated avoiding any social situations that make them feel uncomfortable. In turn social isolation can quickly turn into depression and those who are depressed may find it hard to follow their treatment plans and to manage their blood sugars. It is important to be aware of this and to look out for symptoms of hearing loss and depression to break this cycle.

Diabetics urged to act now

If you have diabetes you are urged to see a hearing professional as soon as possible, whether you think you may have hearing loss or not. By getting a baseline measurement of your hearing, experts can then closely monitor your hearing health at your recommended annual hearing tests going forward. In the same way eyesight can change, so they are tested by an optician every year, hearing can be stable for a long time and then quickly shift. Regular testing also means that treatment can be provided as soon as possible if your hearing does start to change. If you know that you are already experiencing symptoms of hearing loss, then it is even more important to get your ears checked to restore your confidence and prevent any other negative consequences that hearing loss can bring. For more information, to get some advice from our friendly team, or to book your FREE hearing assessment call us on 08000 199 575.