Diabetes May Affect Your Hearing

Nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes and 86 million adults have prediabetes. Recent studies indicate that if you have either of these conditions you are at greater risk of hearing loss. Here is what you need to know.

According to the American Diabetes Association, hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes as it is in those who don’t have the disease. For those who have prediabetes the rate of hearing loss is 30 percent higher than those who don’t have it. Scientists and physicians aren’t exactly sure why this happens but they suspect that high levels of blood glucose may have something to do with it. The theory is that high blood glucose may damage the small blood vessels in the ear which, in turn, decrease hearing. As research continues, you can protect your hearing by educating yourself on the early signs of hearing loss and by managing your diabetes.

What are the early signs of hearing loss?
There are many different signs and symptoms of hearing loss. Because it occurs slowly over time you may recognize these symptoms gradually.

  • Trouble hearing what people are saying.
  • Asking people to repeat themselves multiple times.
  • Trouble hearing in noisy environments like restaurants and parties.
  • You think people mumble when they talk.
  • You find yourself turning up the volume on the TV or radio in order to hear.
  • You have difficulty hearing people on the phone.
  • You have difficulty hearing at the movies.

If you experience any of these symptoms consistently you may have some degree of hearing loss.

Managing diabetes can prevent hearing loss
Even though researchers aren’t sure why diabetes increases the risk of hearing loss, they do know that managing diabetes helps to decrease that risk. You can manage diabetes by maintaining a healthy weight, eating well and remaining active. The American Diabetes Association and your physician are good resources for information on preventing diabetes and managing it if you are diagnosed.

Should you begin to experience hearing loss from diabetes, see your physician. Ask for a referral to an audiologist who specializes in providing assistive devices that can enhance your hearing. The audiologist will conduct a comprehensive hearing exam to determine your level of hearing loss and then work with you to provide the right device to improve your ability to hear in a variety of environments.

References
Diabetes and hearing loss
Management: http://www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/?loc=atrisk-slabnav
Statistics source: http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/