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Diabetes and Hearing Loss

Diabetes and Hearing Loss

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While a specific cause between diabetes and hearing loss is still unclear, there is enough evidence to encourage all diabetic patients to have their hearing tested and monitored regularly.

Statistics show that more than 30 million people in the US have diabetes, making it one of the top ten most prevalent health conditions today. Hearing loss, another common health condition, is estimated to affect 35-45 million people in the US. These two disorders represent a large percentage of our population and research has shown that there is considerable connection between them.

Studies show that hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes. Those who have prediabetes, estimated to be as many as 84 million people, are 30 percent more likely to develop hearing loss, compared to people who have normal blood glucose readings.

Some studies suggest that damage to blood vessels due to high blood glucose levels is one possibility for the higher incidence. High blood glucose levels are known to cause diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to blindness, due to damage of small blood vessels in the eye. The cochlea, which is the organ of hearing in the inner ear, also has several tiny blood vessels that are critical to normal function. Other studies show that the problem could be damage to the auditory nerve, which is responsible for delivering sound signals to the brain for processing.

Age does not seem to play a role in increased chance of hearing loss in diabetics. An analysis of 13 past studies of diabetes in relation to hearing found diabetics under the age of 60 were even more likely to develop hearing loss, at 2.61 times their normal hearing peers.

Hearing loss is also connected to social isolation, depression and a higher incidence of dementia. Studies on individuals who were tested and properly fit with hearing aid technology were less likely to have depression and showed significant improvements in cognition.

With the increased chance of diabetes creating a permanent hearing problem it is important for those with the disease to be tested regularly and earlier than most to catch and address any hearing loss as quickly as possible.

Contact us to schedule your hearing evaluation today!