Diabetes and hearing loss are two of America’s most widespread health concerns. Nearly 26 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and an estimated 34.5 million have some type of hearing loss.
The numbers are similar — is there a link?
Yes, says the National Institute of Health (NIH). In fact, the NIH has found that hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes as it is in those who don’t have the disease. Also, of the 79 million adults thought to have pre-diabetes, the rate of hearing loss is 30% higher than in those with normal blood sugar.
How does diabetes contribute to hearing loss?
Hearing depends on small blood vessels and nerves in the inner ear. Researchers believe that, over time, high blood glucose levels can damage these vessels and nerves, diminishing the ability to hear.
What should I do if I suspect a hearing loss?
Talk to your primary care doctor. You may then want to seek help from hearing specialist like: an audiologist, a licensed hearing aid dispenser or a doctor who specializes in hearing problems. From a full hearing exam, you’ll learn more about your hearing loss. You also will be told what can be done to treat it.
What can be done to treat a hearing loss?
Sometimes the problem is just an earwax build-up and the patient is referred to a doctor to remove the wax. Treatment will depend on the type of hearing loss. According to the American Diabetes Association, the most common type of hearing loss is called sensorineural hearing loss, This is the kind usually found with diabetes. It cannot usually be cured. However, most cases of sensorineural hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids.