When considering diabetes, you don’t usually correlate it with hearing loss but the two conditions are actually closely related. The American Diabetes Association says both diabetes and hearing loss are two of the highest health concerns in America. Take a look at the stats: 30 million people have diabetes, and 34.5 million people have hearing loss. Recent studies illustrate that people are twice as likely to have hearing loss if they suffer from diabetes than those who do not have this disease. These studies, focused on 20,000 people from various continents around the world, take into account participants from the U.S., Asia, Brazil and Australia.
Correlation Between Diabetes and Hearing Loss
Even though there are many studies linking diabetes and hearing loss, researchers still aren’t sure exactly why diabetes causes hearing loss or the other way around. Many believe it has something to do with high blood glucose levels that come with the territory with diabetes, harming the small blood vessels in the inner ear. This is similar to how those levels can adversely affect your eyes, kidneys and feet over time. However, more research needs to be done to further examine the link between the two conditions. Researchers say age doesn’t play a role in these links, even though it’s been known for some time that hearing loss occurs as we age. One theory is that people should better control their blood sugar levels to reduce the risk of hearing impairment, but the jury is still out on this one. A noisy workplace has also been ruled out as a mitigating factor, but researchers know that diabetics take medications and diuretics to lower their blood pressure, and these could be the culprits causing the hearing loss.
Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss
Always be diligent and look for tell-tale signs and symptoms of hearing loss. These can include difficulty following conversations with two or more people, hearing mumbling from others, trouble picking up on the voices of small children or women, and the need to crank the volume on the TV or radio up. Do you have trouble distinguishing words against background noise or a boisterous crowd of people? Do you feel like you have to ask others to repeat themselves? Do you pick up on muffling of sounds on a daily basis instead of clear words? You could be a victim of hearing loss. This may even cause you to avoid social situations, so make sure you visit an audiologist for diagnosis and treatment. You don’t want to put yourself at risk of a dangerous situation, such as driving or operating heavy machinery. You probably won’t even know you have a hearing problem until you’re set straight by your spouse or close friend. Take their advice and get checked.
Testing for Diabetes
If you are diabetic you should have your hearing tested. This can help researchers determine what the exact correlation is between the two conditions. When you see the doctor, ask for a referral to an audiologist for further testing. While diabetes is linked to a whole host of health problems, such as heart disease and vision loss, many doctors still fail to test your hearing as part of a full exam when you’re diabetic.