The Diabetes-Hearing Loss Connection Explained

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Hearing loss affects more than 34.5 million diabetics in the US alone. Although health experts are unsure how diabetes causes hearing loss, it is possible that the high glucose level cause damage to the delicate parts of the ears.

The Diabetes-Hearing Loss Connection

According to a study published in the journal of Otology and Neurotology, diabetes affects hearing so profoundly that the disease causes hearing loss at all sound registers. This shows that diabetes causes damage to the inner ear.

The fact is, the inner ear has extremely delicate structure. Poorly controlled blood sugar level cause damages to the small blood vessels all over the body, including those in the ears.

According to hearing loss researcher and otolaryngologist Yuri Agrawal, the assistant professor of otolaryngology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, while the rest of the body can withstand the damages caused by elevated glucose in the blood, the ears are not as lucky because the organ does not have alternative blood supplies. The lack of a backup blood supply means there is no redundancy in the blood supply to the inner ear. The damaged blood vessels eventually cause hearing to dull.

Apart from hearing loss, diabetes can also affect a patient’s sense of balance. The ears regulate a person’s sense of balance. Once the inner ear is damaged, a patient is more likely to lose his balance and slip.

Signs of Hearing Loss Among Diabetics

Some of the most common signs of hearing loss include trouble following conversations, repeating what is being said, thinking that others are whispering through they are speaking in normal voices and trouble hearing higher pitches, like the voice of women or children. Other symptoms of hearing loss include turning up the TV or radio volume to a too-loud level and problems hearing in noisy environments, like restaurants.

How to Preserve Hearing as a Diabetic

There are many ways to protect yourself from hearing loss if you are a diabetic. The key is to reduce your risk of developing hearing problems and:

Regulate Blood Sugar Level

You want to make sure that your blood sugar level remains steady to avoid further damages caused by elevated blood sugar to your inner ears. You can monitor your blood sugar by taking at-home blood glucose tests and avoiding foods that are high in sugar.

Avoid Smoking

Did you know that smoking accelerates aging and increases damage to the tissues? Think of cigarette smoke as a risk multiplier. It enhances the effects of blood vessel damage that eventually leads to hearing loss and vision loss! If you want to preserve your hearing then you have to stop smoking cigarettes today.

Avoiding Loud Noises

Exposure to loud noises can affect an already weakened inner ear. If you are constantly raising your voice just to be heard or you have trouble carrying on with a conversation because people are too loud, you have to go someplace else or use noise-cancelling or reducing devices to protect your ears. All the constant noise will take a toll on your inner ears, eventually causing hearing loss!