If you have hearing loss, you know that it has many causes, from excessive noise, aging, Meniere’s disease to otosclerosis. But did you know that research shows that people with diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing loss than non-diabetics? This is striking, considering how common diabetes has become in recent years.
As the link between diabetes and hearing loss becomes more established, medical researchers are realizing that hearing loss may in fact be an under-recognized complication of diabetes. And since diabetes is becoming more and more common, we may see it becoming a more significant contributor to hearing loss overall.
A study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) involved two groups of people: one diabetic, and one non-diabetic. They found that 21% of people with diabetes experienced some kind of hearing loss, as opposed to 9% of people without diabetes. When comparing high-frequency hearing loss, 54% of diabetic participants suffered in contrast to 32% of non-diabetics.
Even if you are pre-diabetic there is cause for concern. The study found that pre-diabetics were 30% more likely to develop hearing loss than their counterparts with normal blood sugar levels.
Researchers aren’t sure exactly how high blood sugar levels affect hearing, they think that consistent high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels and nerves in the inner ear similar to the way they damage the kidneys and they eyes.
The American Diabetes Association reports that 30 million Americans have diabetes. Since 34.5 million people in America have some type of hearing loss, these are both very serious health concerns in the United States.
It is important to understand the risk factors associated with diabetes and pre-diabetes, and know that these diseases increase your risk of hearing loss. When you are aware of the connection and are watching out for the symptoms of hearing loss you can better head off or prevent further hearing loss from occurring.
What Can You Do?
While diabetes is on the rise, the most common form of diabetes in the US is Type 2 (adult onset) diabetes, which can be prevented and in some cases even reversed. The causes of Type 2 diabetes are mostly lifestyle-related and include poor diet, sedentary lifestyle and obesity. If you take steps to improve your overall health and control your blood sugar, you can also prevent some of the symptoms and effects of diabetes, such as hearing loss.
In the meantime, be sure to get regular hearing screenings as well. Not only will this protect your hearing health, it may also alert you to the possibility of high blood pressure or diabetes.
The first step to halting hearing loss and preventing further damage is to recognize your situation. Come in today for a hearing screening and formulate a strategy to train your brain to listen actively and effectively.