Diabetes is on the rise in America, so it’s more important than ever for people who are at risk or suffering from diabetes-related complications to know about the connection between diabetes and hearing loss.
Diabetes and Hearing Loss: What We Know
According to the American Diabetes Association, a recent study found that hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes as it is in those who don’t have diabetes. Of the 88 million adults in the United States who have prediabetes, the rate of hearing loss is 30 percent higher than in those with normal blood glucose (blood sugar).
We still don’t understand the exact correlation between diabetes and hearing loss. It’s conceivable that high blood glucose levels caused by diabetes harm the inner ear’s tiny blood vessels, similar to how diabetes can damage the eyes and the kidneys. More research still needs to be done to discover why people with diabetes have a higher rate of hearing loss.
What Are the Signs of Hearing Impairment?
If you have diabetes, it’s important to be aware of the signs of hearing impairment. Some common symptoms include:
- Having difficulty understanding what people are saying, especially in noisy environments
- Asking others to repeat themselves often
- Feeling that people are mumbling or not speaking clearly
- Noticing that others seem to sound louder than before
- Hearing a ringing, buzzing, or humming noise in your ears (this is called tinnitus)
What Should I Do If I Notice Hearing Loss?
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor right away. Early detection and treatment of hearing loss can help prevent further damage and improve your quality of life.
If you have diabetes, it’s especially important to be on the lookout for hearing loss and to seek treatment if you notice any problems. Working with your doctor to manage your diabetes will help keep your blood sugar levels under control and may also help prevent hearing loss down the road.
Are There Ways to Prevent Hearing Loss?
Yes! There are several things you can do to help prevent hearing loss, whether or not you have diabetes. Some of these include:
- Wearing ear protection when participating in loud activities
- Avoiding excessive noise exposure
- Quitting smoking
- Managing your blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Getting regular checkups and screenings for hearing loss
Will I Need Hearing Aids?
Not necessarily, but if you do develop hearing loss, it’s important to be aware that most types of hearing aids can help restore your ability to hear sound. You don’t have to lose the gift of hearing just because you have diabetes! Your audiologist (hearing specialist) will work with you and your doctor to find a solution for your specific needs – whether this means trying out different styles or brands of hearing aids, making adjustments in volume levels, or considering other technologies like cochlear implants.
What Can I Expect From Hearing Tests?
If you’re worried that you may have hearing loss, your doctor may refer you to an audiologist for a series of tests. The audiologist will ask about your medical history and perform a physical exam of your ears. They will also use specialized equipment to test how well you can hear different sounds at different volumes.
This information is vital in order to create a treatment plan that’s right for you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – the audiologist wants to help you get the best possible care and that starts with a hearing test.
Diabetes and Hearing Loss
Diabetes-related hearing loss is still being studied. Your diabetes diagnosis will not automatically mean you will have hearing loss. Diabetes does, however, increase the chance of developing some form of hearing impairment, so it is important to be proactive and get your hearing checked regularly. If you are diagnosed with diabetes-related hearing loss, most types of hearing aids can help return your ability to hear sound.
If you experience any signs or symptoms of hearing impairment, please see a doctor right away for diagnosis and treatment options. If you are diabetic or have any concerns about your hearing, please talk to an audiologist. Early detection is key to preserving your quality of life and preventing further damage!