This is a fascinating subject. Given that we know diabetes has an adverse effect on organs such as the eyes, the kidneys and the heart, it seems only logical that we ask the question does diabetes cause hearing loss as well?
A good place to start to address this subject is with a statistic that suggests that hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes. Does that mean that it is not a question any more? Interestingly medical research is yet to find definitive evidence that diabetes and hearing loss are linked.
Inconclusive medical research
More research is definitely required on this subject but the fact remains that hearing loss is significantly higher in diabetics than non diabetics. It makes sense that diabetes effects the small blood vessels in the ears in a similar way that they effect the small blood vessels in the eyes for example.
Unfortunately there is not a lot of hard evidence in medical circles about diabetes and hearing loss other than to say that there is a lot of research going on in this field right now. However, there is an assumption that high blood sugar levels can cause damage to the small blood cells in the inner ear which may impair hearing.
The below chart while not conclusive, does foretell that diabetes and hearing loss are linked. This survey included a cross section of men and women and races from across the globe. Surveys such as these exist to answer the question does diabetes cause hearing loss…
This data suggests that among people with diabetes (especially those between the ages of 50 and 69 years) 70% or more have high-frequency hearing impairment and one third have low or mid frequency hearing impairment. Further data also suggests that people with diabetes can experience hearing loss at earlier ages…
How does diabetes cause hearing loss?
It is estimated that diabetes can affect hearing in several ways. When your blood sugar levels are poorly managed there can be a breakdown of nerves in the ears. This is the same kind of breakdown that damages nerves in the feet and eyes. As blood vessels in the ears are equally as small as those in the feet and eyes it makes sense that high blood sugar running through those veins slows down and runs through them like honey, not like normal healthy blood. That makes it hard for blood to get into the tiny capillaries of the cochlea which can produce impaired hearing.
How can I protect my ears?
As is the case with preventing all complications of having diabetes, manage your blood sugar levels as well as possible. Monitor your blood sugar levels constantly. Manage and put into a diary your levels of insulin and other diabetes medications. Eat a healthy diet and exercise everyday if possible. If you manage your blood sugar levels effectively then it is unlikely that you will develop any of the multitude of diabetic complications down the track.
Signs of diabetes and hearing loss
The symptoms of hearing loss should be obvious to anyone. Just in case there are people out there that cant tell, here are some of the tell-tale signs –
- Asking people to repeat themselves regularly
- Turning up the radio or TV to very loud levels
- Not being able to follow conversations involving two or more people
- Inability to detect every day noises indoors and outdoors
Sometimes you will not detect these issues yourself. It maybe that those closest to you will tell you that your hearing maybe deteriorating.
What to do if you think your hearing has been impaired?
If you believe that your hearing is not what it used to be and you are a diabetic you should seek medical advice ASAP. This is very serious as hearing loss is not reversible. Some problems with your eyes maybe reversible, but not when it comes to your ears unfortunately. It maybe that you have to wear a hearing aid to assist you. Hearing aids have come a long way in the last two decades.They can adjust for distortions at high and also at low frequencies which means it is much easier to hear what you are trying to hear at any given time.
If you believe that you are experiencing hearing loss due to diabetes then it is suggested that you get in touch with a medical professional ASAP. It is possible that diabetes is indeed behind your hearing loss. As it is impossible to reverse this it is vital that you act immediately to limit the damage. You may need to ask a friend or love one if they believe you are losing your hearing. More research will most likely give a conclusion on does diabetes cause hearing loss in the not too distant future.
If you have any ideas or thought of your own on does diabetes cause hearing loss then please get in touch with me below.