The Connection Between Diabetes and Hearing Loss

medicine, age, diabetes, health care

According to the National Institute of Health, approximately 15% of American adults (37.5 million) aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing. A plethora of conditions has been linked to hearing loss including, social isolation, depression, mental decline, and dementia. Nearly 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes. Diabetics and the hearing impaired are large groups of people, and now it appears there is overlap between the two conditions.

Signs of hearing loss

Hearing loss is a common problem caused by noise, aging, disease, and heredity. As a result, people with hearing loss may find it hard to have conversations with friends and family. Some people have a hearing problem and don’t realize it. Below are a few signs that you might be having a problem hearing:

  • Frequently asking others to repeat themselves.
  • Trouble following conversations that involve more than two people.
  • Believing that others are mumbling.
  • Problems hearing in noisy places such as a busy restaurant.
  • Trouble hearing the voices of women and small children.
  • Increasing the TV or radio volume too much for others who are nearby.

Diabetes and hearing loss

According to a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Hearing loss is about twice as common in adults with diabetes compared to those who do not have the disease.”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,” said senior author Catherine Cowie, Ph.D.,

Dr. Cowie suggested that people with diabetes should consider having their hearing tested. “Our study found a strong and consistent link between hearing impairment and diabetes using a number of different outcomes.  This is the first study of a nationally representative sample of working-age adults, 20 to 69 years old, and we found an association between diabetes and hearing impairment evident as early as ages 30 to 40.”

Can hearing loss be prevented?

Unfortunately, we don’t currently know how being diabetic is related to hearing loss. It’s possible that the high blood glucose levels associated with being diabetic causes damage to the small blood vessels in the inner ear, similar to the way in which the disease can damage the eyes and the kidneys. But more research needs to be done to discover why people with diabetes have a higher rate of hearing loss. Ultimately, if you have diabetes, you should get your hearing checked and the sooner, the better.

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