The Connection Between Diabetes and Hearing Loss

It is estimated that in the United States, 30 million people have diabetes. Of these people with diabetes, the CDC estimates that roughly 90 – 95% have type 2 diabetes. 

Diabetes is a long-lasting (chronic) health condition. It affects how your body is able to turn food into energy, and managing diabetes is crucial. Without management, the risk of developing complications as a result of the diabetes increases. What you may not be aware of, is that when left unmanaged, diabetes may contribute to hearing loss. 

How Can Diabetes Affect Your Hearing Health?

In research conducted by The National Institutes of Health (NIH), results indicated that adults with diabetes were twice as likely to have a hearing loss than those without diabetes. 

Senior author Catherine Cowie, Ph.D., of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) said, “Hearing loss may be an under-recognized complication of diabetes. As diabetes becomes more common, the disease may become a more significant contributor to hearing loss… Our study found a strong and consistent link between hearing impairment and diabetes using a number of different outcomes.”

How Can Diabetes Cause Hearing Loss?

It isn’t yet clear what exactly contributes or causes hearing loss in people with diabetes. However, research is increasingly outlining that diabetes may contribute to hearing loss by damaging blood vessels and nerves. This damage is the result of high blood sugar (A1c levels). When this damage occurs in our sensitive auditory system, hearing can be affected. 

If you struggle to manage your blood sugar levels, you may be more likely to develop hearing loss. It’s important to follow your treatment plan, monitor your condition and stay on top of your regular health assessments. 

Individuals who are at higher risk should also be aware that damage to the sensitive auditory system can also increase the risk of falling by causing balance or dizziness symptoms.

What Can You Do?

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, there are a number of steps that you can take to reduce the likelihood of a hearing loss:

  • Book annual hearing assessments
  • Follow your diabetes treatment plan 
  • Take your medication as prescribed
  • Monitor your blood sugar levels
  • Exercise regularly, daily where possible
  • Reduce high blood pressure
  • Manage your weight, eat healthy

Managing diabetes is one of the best ways to help protect your hearing. Additionally, understanding the signs and symptoms of hearing loss can help you identify any changes to your hearing as soon as possible.

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At REM Audiology, our hearing specialists can help with custom hearing protection. If you’re in need of exploring hearing protection further, get in touch. Call us today on (888) 710-5734. Alternatively, click here to contact us online.

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The purpose of this hearing assessment and/or demonstration is for hearing wellness and to determine if the consumer may benefit from using hearing aids, which may include selling and fitting hearing aids. Products demonstrated may differ from products sold. Assessment conclusion is not a medical diagnosis and further testing may be required to diagnose hearing loss. The use of any hearing aid may not fully restore normal hearing and does not prevent future hearing loss. Hearing instruments may not meet the needs of all hearing-impaired individuals.