November is Diabetes Awareness Month! According to the American Diabetes Association, this month is a time for us to come together to sound the alarm about diabetes. The goal of Diabetes Awareness Month is to educate those around us on diabetes, learn more about it, and ultimately, find a cure. If you or a loved one have or are at risk of developing diabetes, now is the perfect time to learn more about it. For instance, did you know there’s a connection between diabetes and hearing loss?
What Is The Connection?
The relationship between diabetes and hearing loss is complicated. Though the link between has been debated in scientific communities since the 1960’s, a study in 2008 found that compared to those without. Similarly, adults with prediabetes, meaning those who have higher blood sugar levels than average but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis, have a 30% higher rate of hearing loss than adults with average blood sugar levels.
Why exactly this is, however, has yet to be determined. The leading hypothesis is that diabetes may cause hearing loss by damaging the nerves and blood vessels in the inner ear. People with diabetes are at risk of developing diabetic neuropathy, a kind of nerve damage that occurs from high blood sugar levels. Most commonly, this affects a diabetic person’s legs and feet, though it can affect nerves elsewhere in the body, as well, including the small blood vessels and nerves in the inner ear. Plus, low blood sugar can also damage how nerve signals travel from the inner ear to the brain. These issues in conjunction can lead to hearing loss.
What Are The Signs?
Research shows that diabetes can cause hearing loss in people as young as 30 to 40 years old. If you’re concerned that you or a loved one may have diabetes, specifically type 2, which can go undiagnosed for years, you should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of the disease. Follow up with your doctor if you’re experiencing any of the following:
- High blood sugar symptoms like increased thirst and frequent urination
- Low blood sugar symptoms like increased hunger and fatigue
- Slow-healing sores
- Numbness in hands or feet
- Unexplained weight loss
If you or your loved one has already been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s also important to be aware of signs of hearing loss due to the connection between them. Some common signs include:
- Difficulty understanding words, especially in a crowd or with other background noise
- Frequently asking others to repeat themselves
- Turning up the volume louder than is comfortable for others
What Can be Done?
Because researchers believe that nerve damage from abnormal blood sugar levels may be what causes hearing loss in people with diabetes, managing your diabetes and monitoring your blood sugar are important preventative measures. Plus, taking these steps will help you avoid other health issues that can come with diabetes, like heart attacks and strokes.
Visit the hearing specialists near you to get the support you need. Request an appointment online today, or call (412)-347-5550 to schedule over the phone.
If you or a loved one have diabetes and/or have been experiencing any symptoms of hearing loss, it’s also worth scheduling a with your audiologist. The audiologists at can show you how to protect your hearing, as well as give you strategies and tools to help with any hearing loss you may already have, like . Your ears are important and worth protecting!