Diabetes and hearing loss are two common health conditions in the United States. More than 37 million Americans have diabetes and roughly 30 million have hearing loss.
So, what’s the connection?
How Diabetes Affects Your Hearing
Diabetes alters your body’s ability to produce and regulate insulin, resulting in high or low blood glucose. If you have diabetes, you’re twice as likely to develop hearing loss since the condition can cause high blood pressure and nerve damage in your ears.
Your inner ear is full of tiny hair-like cells that rely on blood flow to convert sound waves to electrical signals for your brain. High blood sugar could lead to permanent damage to the hair cells, while low blood sugar can affect how nerve signals travel to your brain.
Other Risk Factors
If you have diabetes, your risk for hearing loss may be compounded by:
- Short- or long-term exposure to loud sounds
- Cardiovascular disease
- Ear infections
- Viral and bacterial infections
- Brain, head and neck injuries
How to Protect Your Hearing if You Have Diabetes
- Keep your blood sugar levels within the recommended range by monitoring them regularly.
- Maintain a healthy weight by adhering to a diabetic diet plan, which includes avoiding excess sugar, sodium, trans fat and saturated fat.
- Follow a consistent schedule if you take medication for health conditions.
- Exercise regularly and drink plenty of water.
- Limit your exposure to loud noises and wear hearing protection, like earplugs, when you’re in a noisy environment.
- Be mindful of the signs of hearing loss, such as frequently asking others to repeat themselves or speak up and turning up the TV to excessive volumes.
When to Seek Hearing Loss Treatment
It’s important to meet with an audiologist after you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes. Doing so allows your doctor to establish a baseline for your hearing. You should also schedule an annual hearing evaluation to monitor any changes in your hearing health.
Your audiologist will determine if your hearing is affected and how severely it has been impacted. During an in-person hearing evaluation, you’ll complete a test in a soundproof booth by listening to various tones at different volumes. The results create an audiogram that identifies the unique traits of your hearing loss.
Your audiologist can prescribe appropriate hearing treatment, which may include hearing aids or assistive listening devices, based on your needs, budget and lifestyle.
Take our free online hearing test if you suspect you have hearing loss. Contact Audio Help Hearing Centers online or call 888-832-9966 to schedule an appointment after you complete the test.