Medical science hasn’t yet discovered the exact reason why diabetes can cause an increased chance of hearing loss. Some doctors have hypothesized that high glucose levels in the blood that are associated with diabetes can damage to the small blood vessels in the ear, much like the way in which diabetes has been known to cause trouble in a patient’s kidneys and eyes.
However, others believe that hearing loss may be caused by the nerve damage that leads to peripheral neuropathy in diabetes sufferers. Diabetes may cause changes in the sensory neurons or fibers of the auditory nerve, making it more difficult for patients to perceive or understand sounds. Regardless of the exact cause, there is definitive evidence that diabetes patients are more likely to suffer from hearing loss than those with normal blood glucose levels.
The Overlap in Patients With Diabetes and Hearing Loss
According to the American Diabetes Association, an estimated 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, while nearly 35 million are suffering from some degree of hearing loss. It appears that many people are suffering from both conditions—and it’s probably not a coincidence. A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found some interesting factors when researcher examined diabetes patients for signs of hearing problems:
- Hearing loss is twice as common in diabetes patients as it is in people who have no diabetic symptoms.
- Diabetes-related hearing loss was significantly worse in women, especially for patients whose diabetes was not under control.
- Patients with pre-diabetes had a 30 percent higher rate of hearing loss than patients with normal glucose levels. Pre-diabetes, a condition where glucose levels are elevated but not considered diabetic, affects roughly 86 million adults in the U.S. and often leads to the development of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and possibly strokes.
If you are experiencing the early signs of hearing loss, our Philadelphia-area hearing care specialists can get you started on the road to recovery. Call the number on this page to make an appointment with our office nearest you and get the treatment you need today!