Those with uncontrolled diabetes are thought to be twice as likely to experience some type of hearing loss than those without diabetes. Studies and trials have tested and monitored diabetes and hearing loss, with clear correlations being identified. Loss to high frequency sounds are most associated with the type of hearing loss found in those with diabetes.
As the rates of diabetes are skyrocketing around the world, the impact on hearing could be significant.
This article delves into the reasons why diabetics are more susceptible to hearing loss and how best to limit this if you do suffer from diabetes.
Why Is Hearing Loss More Common with Diabetes?
The precise causes and contributions to hearing loss in those with diabetes often can’t be fully identified.
There is lots of evidence to suggest that uncontrolled diabetes does impact hearing, but the exact reasons and likelihood are yet to be fully explained.
Diabetes, if not managed effectively, can damage blood vessels all around the body. This is because diabetes can lead to sustained high blood glucose levels which can damage small blood vessels. The higher amount of glucose in the blood takes its toll on smaller vessels and can cause an array of complications. The tiny vessels in certain areas of the body become very vulnerable to this high glucose blood, which can damage associated organs and functionality – potentially leading to very serious health issues.
From blindness due to damaging vessels around the eye, to kidney failure, the implications of uncontrolled diabetes are significant. Just like the eyes, kidneys or nervous system, the ears include lots of delicate and vulnerable structures that can’t cope with large degrees of change. Other parts of the body can potentially absorb the impact of high blood glucose by using alternative blood supplies, but for the eyes, ears, kidneys and other complex structures, the body can’t adapt to the change.
The ear contains lots of tiny blood vessels and hair cells that translate and interpret the sounds around us. When high blood glucose levels damage any part of the hearing system, some degree of hearing loss could become present.
Diabetes could also lead to damage to nerve cells – a vital part of the hearing structure in the ear. Damage to the auditory nerves could impact the ability to hear and interpret sound.
A counter-argument to the link between diabetes and hearing loss would be causation Vs correlation. Just because someone with diabetes experiences hearing loss, it doesn’t necessarily mean the diabetes caused it. Particularly in the elderly, general ageing could be contributing to hearing loss more than diabetes. As a result, hearing tests and examinations are the best way to understand both your diabetes and your hearing.
Signs of Hearing Loss
Regardless of the cause, many of the signs of hearing loss will be the same.
- Muffled hearing
- Trouble following conversations
- Trouble interpreting high frequency sounds
- Needing to turn the volume up on TV/audio devices.
Often, the problem with hearing loss is that it can be gradual, therefore making it harder to clearly know you are in fact experiencing loss of hearing. This is why hearing tests are so valuable in showcasing someone’s true state of hearing.
Managing Hearing Loss with Diabetes
For diabetics, having frequent hearing tests is recommended. This can test and monitor how your hearing is performing in each ear. If there are any early signs of hearing loss, its important to identify this as soon as possible, so adequate solutions and management can be put in place.
If hearing loss is present, then having your ears tested regularly is also important, to see how it is changing. Hearing aids are likely to be the main source of management for anyone who does experience hearing loss. Hearing aids offer a variety of functions and specifications, that can suit your specific needs. If you’d like to learn more about what hearing aids to use, then visit our product page or get in touch to speak to an expert today.
For any diabetics without any form of hearing loss, then the best approach to tackling any future likelihood of hearing loss is to prevent any damage to the hearing structure through effective diabetes management. Being able control blood glucose levels, means there isn’t the spikes in glucose levels in the blood that lead to damage and complications in the ears, and other organs around the body.
By managing diabetes effectively, a diabetic can avoid many of the health problems that are often associated with the illness. Diet, exercise, medication and regular monitoring can all help ensure diabetes is managed effectively. Uncontrolled or unmanaged diabetes is bound to lead to some type of deteriorating health.
Caring for your hearing in general, such as avoiding loud noises, are always recommended as well. No-one is immune from hearing loss, so ensuring you’re not putting your ears at risk by being in environments that can damage your hearing is something we should all remember. If you work or are required to be around loud noises, taking the necessary precautions and using appropriate equipment and safety gear can be the difference between long-term hearing loss or not.