It’s true that different conditions often affect one another. This has been found to be true with diabetes and hearing loss. The link was recently explored in a study of 20,000 participants. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes and hearing loss are the top two health concerns in this country. The statistics are incredible: 30 million people suffer from diabetes, while 34.5 million people have some degree of hearing loss. Recent studies have shown that you are twice as likely to have hearing loss if you have diabetes than other people without the disease. These studies concentrated on 20,000 people from various places around the globe, including the U.S., Asia, Brazil and Australia.
Correlation Between Diabetes and Hearing Loss
It’s undeniable that more research needs to be done to further examine the link between the two conditions. That being said, researchers don’t feel age plays a role in these links, even though it’s been known for some time that hearing loss occurs as we age. One theory? Diabetics should better control their blood sugar levels to reduce the risk of hearing impairment, but the jury is still out on that factor. Even though loud noises often lead to hearing loss in many people, a noisy workplace has also been ruled out as a mitigating factor in these studies. Also, researchers are aware that diabetics take medications and diuretics to lower their blood pressure, and these could be the culprits for the hearing loss. Certainly these many studies have drawn a link between diabetes and hearing loss, but the fact remains that researchers still aren’t sure exactly why diabetes causes hearing loss or vice versa. Many suspect it has to do with high blood glucose levels that come with the territory with diabetes. These levels can really do a number on the small blood vessels in the inner ear, known to cause hearing impairment — just like how those levels can adversely affect your eyes, kidneys and feet over time.
Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss
It’s likely you won’t even know you have a hearing problem until your spouse or close friend tells it to your straight. Take that opportunity to get checked by a doctor, especially if you have these signature signs and symptoms of hearing loss: difficulty following conversations with two or more people, hearing mumbling from others, trouble picking up on the voices of small children or women, the need to crank the volume on the TV or radio up, trouble distinguishing words against background noise or a boisterous crowd of people, the need to ask others to repeat themselves, picking up on muffling of sounds on a daily basis instead of clear words. You could, therefore, suffer from hearing loss, leading to the avoidance of social gatherings. This is why you should visit an audiologist for diagnosis and treatment, as you never should put yourself or others at risk of a dangerous situation, such as driving or using machinery.
Testing for Diabetes
Getting your hearing tested at the doctor’s office during your annual diabetic checkup is essential if you’re going to find answers. If the results come back showing you need further evaluation, your doctor will likely send you to an audiologist. Don’t leave without that referral. Hearing tests are often overlooked at doctor’s visits for adults. Hopefully, the results of these current studies will spur more doctors to test for hearing loss in their diabetic patients.