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.
I don’t think I have any problem with my hearing.
Are you sure? For most people, hearing loss happens over time. The symptoms can be hard to notice. Quite often, family members and friends notice hearing loss before the person experiencing it.
Your doctor may not always screen for hearing loss during a physical. Even if your doctor does check for hearing loss, you may still “pass” the screening test in a quiet exam room. Common signs of hearing loss include: