Diabetes and hearing loss are two major health issues that the American population is deeply concerned about. More than 25 million U.S. residents have diabetes, and close to 35 million people have some sort of hearing loss. In recent studies, there is significant evidence that indicates an overlap in these two medical/health issues.
Diabetes occurs when the body is unable to naturally regulate blood glucose (sugar) levels, either by being resistant to insulin or not producing enough insulin, to keep blood glucose levels consistently at a healthy level.
Due to anomalies and severe fluctuation of blood sugar levels in diabetics, nerve damage is common. There are many complications that can happen, when blood glucose levels are not closely monitored and managed.
Amputation, strokes and kidney issues are complications that many diabetics are familiar with, but there is also a direct correlation between older persons with diabetes and hearing loss.
Hearing loss is quite common among diabetics. Patients that live with Type 2 diabetes are twice more likely to have hearing problems, than people that do not suffer with this disease. In addition, there are close to 80 million Americans that have pre-diabetes, and the chance of losing their hearing increases by 30%, as compared to people that have had normal blood sugar levels.
For this reason, it is important that a person with diabetes have their hearing checked by a professional, at least once a year.
Hearing loss is usually a slow process, and it is first noticed by friends and family. A few signs that you might have a problem with your hearing may include:
- Finding yourself asking people to repeat what they said.
- Have difficultly following conversations that involve several people.
- Having difficultly hearing high-pitch sounds.
- Find yourself struggling to hear your companion at a busy eatery.
- Raising the volume of radio and/or television.
As of the writing of this article, the exact link to diabetes and hearing loss is not determined. One theory that is being investigated is that the high sugar levels (associated with untreated diabetes) may cause damage to the tiny blood vessels found in the inner ear.
Of course, there still needs to be further testing, on a more intense level, regarding this subject, but the initial findings suggest, that the central auditory system of the brain is affected more in people who have diabetes.