Diabetes and Hearing Loss

finger stick diabetes test

Do you, or someone you know, have diabetes and hearing loss? It shouldn’t be surprising. A link between the two conditions has been recognized since the 1960s. In 2008, researchers found that diabetics were twice as likely to have hearing loss compared to their non-diabetic peers.

Why the link? The exact causes are unknown. But two strong theories exist:1

  • Circulatory issues: Circulation problems, a common result of diabetes, can impede the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the blood vessels in the inner ear — blood vessels that are critical to proper hearing.
  • Auditory nerve damage: Diabetes is known to cause peripheral nerve damage (or diabetic neuropathy) in the feet and hands due to prolonged exposure to high blood sugar. It is suspected that similar damage occurs in the sensory neurons or fibers of the auditory nerve.

What can you do?

While there isn’t much that can be done to eliminate the risk of hearing loss with diabetes, there are two things you can do to limit the effects of hearing loss on your quality of life.

  1. First, if your diabetes diagnosis is relatively recent, you should get a hearing screening to set a baseline for your hearing. Future hearing tests (recommended at least once a year) can then measure against the baseline to gauge if and how rapidly hearing loss increases, giving you the knowledge and forewarning to get ahead of any issue.
  2. If hearing loss is an issue, get hearing aids sooner rather than later. Hearing loss may be a “side effect” of diabetes, but with hearing aids, it doesn’t have to be one that slows you down.

If you’d like more information on the link between hearing loss and diabetes — or want to come in for a free baseline hearing screening — North Fulton ENT is here to help. Just call (770) 450-6554 or fill out our Contact Form.

  1. Source: Tsai, A. (2014, December). Hearing Loss and Diabetes: Hearing loss occurs with age, but could diabetes play a role? Retrieved from: http://www.diabetesforecast.org/2014/12-dec/hearing-loss-and-diabetes.html
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