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The relationship between hearing and diabetes is an ongoing debate. Research now points to hearing loss is more common in adults with diabetes.
One study used data from participants ranging in age from 20 to 69.
1. People with diabetes were 2x more likely to have hearing loss than people without.
2. People who are pre-diabetic are 30% more likely to have hearing loss.
There are other studies to support these results.
Let’s look at why they’re linked and what you could do to protect your hearing.
How is diabetes a risk to onset of hearing loss?
Well….. we don’t know precisely. Some people who research the subject believe that diabetes damages hearing nerves. Think of it as neuropathy of the hearing nerve. High blood sugars can damage nerves throughout the body. We call this diabetic
neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy is more common to occur in feet and legs.
Depending on nerves that are being affected, symptoms can range from pain and numbness in your legs to problems with your feet. Your digestive system and heart can also be affected. Symptoms vary they may be mild or debilitating and are generally different from person to person. Researchers believe the same damage may be happening to the cochlea or hearing nerve.
Another theory is high blood sugars could damage the very small blood vessels that support and feed the inner ear. The inner ear has some of the most intricate blood and nerve supplies in the body. This is like how high blood sugars can affect vision and kidney function. The blood vessel system that feeds the ear is very similar to the systems that support the eyes and kidneys. As this system is damaged, hearing is compromised.
So what’s common in both theories? High blood sugars!
What can someone with diabetes do to protect their hearing?
If you can control your blood sugar, the less likely it will be that high blood sugar can affect your hearing and your cochlea or hearing nerve. Following plans for your medication and diet are crucial to hearing loss defence for people with diabetes.
Another important side effect to keep in mind. As a person’s hearing reduces, the likelihood of social isolation and or depression rises. Diabetics who are alone or depressed may struggle more with their treatment plans and managing their blood sugars. It is important top keep an eye out for depression social isolation and denial of a current condition.
Take a considered approach to your hearing
It is advisable for people with diabetes to get a baseline measure of their hearing. The earliest we have a baseline the earlier we can intervene in hearing loss or even indicate further medical advice. Annual hearing tests are recommended. Like your eyesight, your hearing can be stable for a long time and then shift over a short period of time. If we monitor regular your health team can take action as soon as possible if immediate change is noticed.
If you have symptoms of hearing loss, it is even more important for you to get your hearing checked. The sooner we can treat the hearing loss, the less impact it can have on your mood and outlook.
Never delay when it comes to your health.