No one knows why diabetes and hearing loss are linked, but researchers know it’s true. Amazingly, 30 million people have diabetes in the United States, while 34.5 million people suffer from hearing loss. Now we know there’s a link proven between the two. Researchers did studies involving 20,000 people from the United States, Asia, Brazil and Australia to learn whether diabetes and hearing loss are closely intertwined, and they found that, yes, they are. It’s not known why yet at this time. Those with diabetes are twice as likely to have some degree of hearing loss than someone who does not have the disease, which is an alarming fact. This puts diabetes and hearing loss at the top in terms of two health problems in this country, points out the American Diabetes Association.
Correlation Between Diabetes and Hearing Loss
Correlations like old age and a noisy working environment, which are well known to happen to many people, apparently don’t play into the scenario of diabetes and hearing problems. Although you could, as a diabetic, control your blood sugar levels better so hearing impairment doesn’t happen, it’s not known if this would indeed work. The hearing loss could actually be attributed to the medications and diuretics that diabetics take to reduce their high blood pressure. The link between diabetes and hearing loss is not in question; however, the exact cause is still unknown. Many researchers are testing the theory that high blood glucose levels associated with diabetes can harm your inner ear’s sensitive blood vessels, leading to hearing impairment. It’s no secret that diabetics have problems with their eyes, kidneys and feet. Could their hearing also be affected? More research needs to be done in order to reach a more definitive conclusion.
Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss
Do you only hear muffled sounds instead of clear words when in a conversation? Do you have trouble picking up on background noise when there’s a crowd of people near you? Do you suffer from the failure to adequately keep track of conversations involving multiple participants? Do you have problems distinguishing the voices of small children or women? How about that TV – do you crank it up just to hear it? These are all signs of hearing loss, and if you’re a diabetic, these two conditions are likely related. This embarrassing and potentially dangerous combination can affect where you go and whom you see. Getting in a car, too, can prove unsafe if you can’t hear correctly.
Testing for Diabetes
As a diabetic, you should get routine testing for hearing loss. Ask your doctor to screen you for your hearing next time you’re there. When you next see your doctor, ask for a hearing exam so you can get treated by a specialist right away. This should always be a part of doctor’s visits for diabetics, yet it’s not – although doctors check many other components of a diabetic’s health at such checkups. As a result, you need to advocate for your overall health.