• Diabetes and hearing loss - what's the connection?

    The connection between diabetes and hearing loss

    What is the connection between diabetes and hearing loss? Research has emerged in recent years which proves that hearing loss is more common in adults with diabetes. It has been found that if you have diabetes, you might be two times more likely to have hearing loss.

    Why is diabetes linked to hearing loss?

    The precise reason why diabetes can be considered a risk factor for hearing loss is not yet known. There is a school of thought which believes that diabetes could damage the hearing nerves – a type of diabetic neuropathy which can also occur in the legs and feet. There is a second theory that the high blood sugars present in diabetics could cause damage to the small blood vessels which support the inner part of the ear. When these vessels are damaged, hearing can be compromised.

    Research by the NIH

    Research into diabetes and hearing loss

    One of the most important studies on diabetes and hearing loss was conducted by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2008. They found one of the strongest links yet between diabetes and hearing loss. They analysed hearing test results from across the US and found that those with diabetes were more likely to have at least minor hearing loss compared to people who do not have the condition.

    Maternally inherited

    Another important piece of research showed that hearing loss can in fact be maternally inherited by some of those with diabetes. Some one per cent of those with diabetes have a subtype of the condition called Maternally Inherited Diabetes and Deafness (MIDD), which typically causes sensorineural hearing loss. MIDD usually develops in diabetes patients before the age of 40.

    I’m a diabetic. How can I prevent hearing loss?

    As a diabetic, you should note that the better you can control your blood sugar, the less likely it is that high blood sugar can cause hearing loss. That makes sticking to diet treatment plans and medication important for heating protection.

    Which steps do I need to take?

    Control blood sugar to help prevent hearing loss

    You might not have noticed a deterioration in your hearing, but if you have diabetes, it is recommended that you take a hearing test, if you haven’t already. These tests should be taken periodically – aim for once a year. It is important to monitor your hearing at regular intervals as a diabetic because it can deteriorate over a short space of time. Getting periodical tests makes it easier for you to get the treatment you need, when you need it, should you discover that your hearing is getting worse.

    When should you see a doctor?

    If you have already begun to experience hearing loss, it is important that you get it checked out as soon as you can. Your doctor may refer you to an audiologist, a health care professional who is a specialist in diagnosing and treating hearing loss. The sooner you address hearing loss, the sooner you can be advised and supplied with devices such as a hearing aid, which can allow you to maintain your quality of life.

    Diabetes and hearing loss – where to find out more

    If you think you might be affected by diabetes and hearing loss, please contact us to book an appointment. We recommend a half an hour appointment, which will include a hearing test plus the opportunity to discuss diabetic hearing screening with one of our audiologists. Our fee for this will be £50. Call our freephone number to book: 0345 2220579, email us or fill in our online contact form and we will get back to you to make the appointment.

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