Recently, researchers at SUNY Downstate Medical Center analyzed a series of studies on diabetes and hearing loss and concluded that the two are often intertwined. We asked certified diabetes educator Jennifer Smith on Integrated Diabetes Services to talk about this issue.
Most of us know about the main complications that can arise from life with diabetes, but did you know that hearing loss might be another complication?
Studies in the last 10 years have found that hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes as it is in those without diabetes. It’s also interesting to note that they have found the rate of hearing loss is 30% higher in those with prediabetes compared to those with normal blood glucose levels.
At present we aren’t exactly sure how diabetes ups the risk of hearing loss. Research seems to show that high blood sugar levels glucose levels can cause damage to the small blood vessels in the inner ear. This is similar to how diabetes causes damage to the eyes, nerves in fingers and toes and within the kidneys.
Hearing changes slowly, so the symptoms of hearing loss can often be hard to notice. Often it may be family members and friends who notice the hearing loss before the person experiencing it. Some signs of hearing loss include:
- Needing to often ask others to repeat themselves
- Difficulty following conversations that involve more than two people
- Feeling like people are often mumbling in conversations
- Problems hearing in relatively noisy places
- Trouble hearing higher-pitched voices
- Having family or friends tell you the TV or radio is up too loud
No one likes to be told they have hearing loss, but it’s better to hear the news than ignore it. Untreated hearing loss can lead to social isolation and depression.
If you suspect hearing loss, call your primary care doctor and discuss your symptoms. Ask for a referral to a hearing specialist. These clinicians should conduct a full hearing exam. With this information you’ll learn more about your hearing loss and what can be done to treat it. Treatment often includes hearing aids and, in some cases, medicine.
You have enough to deal with when it comes to diabetes. Don’t let untreated hearing loss place another hurdle to living well.
Submit your diabetes questions to [email protected]. All questions will be answered, and yours may be chosen to appear on Insulin Nation or Type 2 Nation.
Integrated Diabetes Services provides one-on-one education and glucose regulation for people who use insulin. Diabetes “coaching” services are available in-person and remotely via phone and online for children and adults. Integrated Diabetes Services offers specialized services for insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor users, athletes, pregnancy & Type 1 diabetes, and those with Type 2 diabetes who require insulin. For more information, call 1-610-642-6055, or write [email protected].
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