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Home » Diabetes » Are Diabetes and Hearing Loss Related? The Link and Prevention
Diabetes is a chronic condition that can cause many health complications if it is not well managed. One of these complications could be hearing loss. But how are diabetes and hearing loss related?
This article will discuss the factors that connect diabetes and hearing loss, along with symptoms, risk factors, and prevention methods. First, let’s get started with a brief summary to help get us started.
Diabetes and Hearing Loss: Research suggests that there are higher rates of hearing loss among those that have diabetes compared to those that do not. The connection may have to deal with how diabetes can damage blood vessels and nerves throughout the body. The symptoms of hearing loss can often go unnoticed due to the gradual progression.
With this quick answer in mind let’s get into more of the specifics.
Diabetes and hearing loss are two prevalent conditions, and though hearing loss is common with age, research has suggested that there is significant overlap among these two conditions.
The exact connection has not yet been determined, and research is still needed. However, there are some potential explanations, but before we get into that we have to understand how exactly the ear works.
Understanding how the ear works will help us identify the relationship between diabetes and hearing loss. Below is a breakdown of how the ear functions.
A portion of the ear, called the cochlea, is filled with fluid. This fluid moves in response to vibrations due to sound.
When the fluid moves, it, in turn, causes tiny hair cells, called stereocilia, in the cochlea to move. These hair cells translate the movement into electrical impulses.
The brain will then interpret these impulses, or signals, allowing us to hear.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that can impact your blood vessels and nerves’ function due to high blood sugar levels.
Chronically high blood sugar levels can decrease the elasticity of your blood vessels. This causes them to narrow over time, making it harder for blood to flow freely and easily.
Blood vessels are vital, as they supply our nerves and organs with oxygenated blood. If the blood vessels become damaged, then crucial parts of our body may not be getting the nutrients they need to be sustained and keep functioning.
Like other parts of the body, the tiny hair cells in the inner ear rely on blood circulation to stay healthy. If these hair cells are damaged or die due to a lack of blood supply, they are permanently damaged.
This, in turn, permanently affects hearing. With this explanation, it starts to become clear how diabetes and hearing loss are more connected than what we may have originally thought.
Individuals with type 2 diabetes are believed to be twice as likely to develop hearing loss or hearing impairment compared to those without diabetes. Even those with prediabetes were shown to have a 30 percent higher rate of hearing loss.
Despite the significant overlap between diabetes and hearing loss, it does not mean everyone with diabetes will suffer from hearing loss also. You can limit your risk by maintaining good control over your blood sugar levels.
There are four different types of hearing loss, and the symptoms you experience may vary depending on the type you are suffering from. Below is a breakdown of each type.
Common symptoms of hearing loss may include:
Those with diabetes may want to have regular check-ups to test the function of their hearing.
Hearing loss can be diagnosed in a few different ways through tests that may include:
Dealing with diabetes and hearing loss is difficult, but making an effort to catch complications early can make it easier. Consider having one of these tests done regularly.
Here is a list of other risk factors that can lead or contribute to hearing loss:
If you have diabetes or one of these other risk factors, consider talking to your doctor about steps you can take to prevent hearing loss.
When it comes to diabetes and hearing loss, we can see how controlling blood sugar and reducing fluctuations in glucose levels will aid in preventing ear damage. Thus, the lower and more stable your A1c is, the more likely you will preserve your ability to hear well.
So, one of the best ways to prevent diabetes-related hearing loss is to control your blood sugar levels. This can be difficult to do regardless of the type of diabetes you have.
However, with the right treatment regimen, it is achievable. Talk to your doctor to ensure the prescribed medications are still right for you.
If you are using insulin, ensure you are dosing your insulin accurately and administering it at the right time.
Another step one can take is to quit habits that can contribute to both hearing loss and worsened blood sugar control. For example, smoking can speed up hearing loss and also worsen insulin resistance. So, quit bad habits so you can improve your diabetes condition and prevent further inner ear damage.
Lastly, avoid exposure to loud noises. This may be impossible as many occupations require you to be around machinery and in an environment filled with loud noises. However, wearing proper ear protection can certainly help.
Many do not consider hearing loss to be a diabetes-related complication but based on what we covered; it looks like it certainly can be. For more information regarding diabetes and hearing loss, talk to your healthcare provider.
If you are paying too much for your diabetes medication, then Prescription Hope may be able to help. Enroll with us and start paying just $50 a month for each of your prescription drugs.
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