Did you know that there are approximately 30 million people in the United States that are living with diabetes? Diabetes is a disease that is characterized by high-blood sugar levels. Most diabetics (about 95%) have Type 2 diabetes and when their blood sugar levels are not well controlled, the risk of developing hearing loss increases. Studies show that diabetics are twice as likely to develop hearing loss as people who do not have the disease. Diabetes is becoming more common and though the global prevalence of diabetes is presently around 9 percent among adults, the incidence is rising. It is becoming an extremely common disease, making it a large contributor to hearing loss.
So how does diabetes relate to a higher risk of hearing loss? There is no definitive answer but research has suggested that hearing loss in diabetics might be due to poor circulation. When glucose levels are not managed, it may cause damage to the small blood vessels in the inner ear which doesn’t have a “backup” blood supply. Hearing loss may then occur because of permanent damage done to the blood vessels of the inner ear. Also, according to a theory by the American Diabetes Association, a person with a higher A1c (percentage of glycated hemoglobin in the blood) possesses a greater risk of developing future hearing loss. That is one of the many reasons why it so very important to manage your blood sugar if you have diabetes. In addition, because you are at increased risk of hearing loss, it is important to get your hearing tested annually, especially if you are not hearing as well as you used to. Some common signs of hearing loss include frequently asking people to repeat themselves, thinking that others are “mumbling” when you cannot hear them clearly, trouble following conversations (especially in groups/background noise) and turning up the TV or radio louder.
If a hearing loss is noticed, please do not hesitate to get a complete hearing evaluation. Hearing loss that is not treated can lead to an entire host of other problems including increased risk for dementia, depression, social isolation and decreased quality of life. Please call us at (856) 602-4200 if you have questions or would like to make an appointment with one of our hearing healthcare professionals or physicians.
*Information obtained from American Diabetes Association Website