How much do you know about hearing loss? Some causes of hearing loss seem pretty obvious. For example, it’s common knowledge that hearing loss can be part of the natural aging process. You’ve also been hearing more about the connection between hearing loss and loud noises.
But did you know that there’s also a link between diabetes and hearing loss? Here’s everything you need to know about hearing loss and diabetes.
Are Diabetes and Hearing Loss Linked?
According to the CDC, 34.2 million Americans have diabetes, and an additional 88 million American adults have prediabetes. And a study by the Henry Ford research team found that women with diabetes had significantly worse hearing than women without diabetes. Another study conducted by researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) also found that hearing loss was a lot more common in those with diabetes. They found that 21% of adults with diabetes had hearing loss, while only 9% of adults without diabetes had hearing loss.
These are just two of the many studies linking hearing loss and diabetes. The research is conclusive: if you have diabetes, you have a higher risk of hearing loss.
What Does Diabetes Have to Do with Hearing?
You probably know at least one person with diabetes. You’re aware of some of the common health problems that can go hand in hand with diabetes, such as high blood sugar levels and a weakened immune system. Other health issues that can be affected by diabetes include heart disease, fatigue, changes in vision, and even kidney disease.
Having high blood sugar levels is the link between diabetes and hearing loss. If you or a loved one has Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, high blood sugar levels are common. Higher than normal blood sugar levels can affect blood flow. The ears are extremely sensitive to any changes in blood flow, and the cells in the inner ear are easily damaged.
The cells in the ear are constantly performing highly specialized tasks, including analyzing sound waves, converting the sound waves into electrical signals, and sending these signals to the brain so you can hear all the sounds around you. The cells need a constant supply of nutrients, but changes in blood sugar levels and blood pressure can damage the cells in the ears.
Diabetes can also affect the amount of oxygen available to the cells throughout the body. The delicate cells in the ear also depend on a steady source of oxygen. When oxygen levels drop, the cells in the ear can be damaged.
Once the cells in the ears are damaged, they can’t analyze the sound waves or send signals to the brain. There may be certain pitches you don’t hear anymore, or soft sounds you completely miss. This is permanent hearing loss.
Do You Have Hearing Loss?
If you or a loved one has diabetes, it’s important to monitor hearing health very closely. These are some of the most common signs of hearing loss:
- Trouble following conversations
- Mishearing what’s being said or saying the wrong thing
- Frequently asking people to repeat themselves
- Difficulty hearing when there is background noise
- Turning up the volume on the phone and the TV
- Feeling frustrated that people around you are mumbling all the time
- Missing soft sounds, like the hum of the fridge
Do any of these signs sound familiar? Schedule a hearing test as soon as possible to find out more about your hearing health.
We recommend that adults get their hearing tested every 5 years, while adults over 60 should have a hearing test every 1 to 2 years. If you have diabetes or prediabetes, you may want to get your hearing tested every 1 to 2 years so you’ll find out the moment your hearing changes.
Treating Hearing Loss
We’re committed to helping you hear! Whether you have diabetes or another health concern, we’ll work with you to find the perfect hearing aids that will match your hearing needs. Find out more about the latest hearing technology, and how you can get back to enjoying social activities.
Don’t let hearing loss hold you back any longer! Visit us today and find the hearing solution that will fit effortlessly into your life.