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. Those are large groups of people, and it appears there is a lot of overlap between the two.
A recent study found that hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes as it is in those who don't have the disease. Of the 79 million adults in the U.S. with prediabetes, the rate of hearing loss is 30 percent higher than in those with normal blood glucose.
Right now we don't know how diabetes is related to hearing loss. It's possible that the high blood glucose levels associated with diabetes cause damage to the small blood vessels in the inner ear, similar to the way diabetes can damage the eyes and the kidneys; but more research needs to be conducted.
Since it can happen slowly, the symptoms of hearing loss can be hard to notice. In fact, family members and friends sometimes notice the hearing loss before the person experiencing it.
Signs of Hearing Loss
- Frequently asking others to repeat themselves.
- Trouble following conversations involving more than two people.
- Thinking that others are mumbling.
- Problems hearing in busy, noisy places.
- Trouble hearing the voices of women and small children.
- Turning up the TV or radio volume too loud for others who are nearby.
What should I do if I suspect a hearing loss?
Talk to your primary care doctor. You may need to seek help from a hearing specialist like: an audiologist or doctor specializing in hearing problems. A full hearing exam will determine any hearing loss and help you decide on treatment.