According to the American Diabetes Association, it appears there is an overlap between diabetes and hearing loss. 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.
Hmmmm. Why could this be? We know that high blood glucose levels cause damage to small blood vessels (for example, in the kidneys and eyes). It is possible then that the same damage may be occurring in the ears. Over time, when exposed to high levels of blood glucose, the very tiny vessels in the inner ear may break. The vessels of the cochlear (the spiral tube, shaped like a snail’s shell, that forms part of the internal ear, where sound vibrations are converted into nerve impulses) thicken, making blood flow to that part of the ear very difficult. Other research has shown that when exposed to high blood glucose over a long period of time nerve damage can occur leading to hearing loss.
Symptoms of hearing loss can be hard to notice because hearing loss happens slowly. Many times, family or friends notice it before the person experiencing it. Some signs of hearing loss include: frequently asking others to repeat themselves; trouble following conversations that involve more than two people; thinking that others are mumbling; problems hearing in noisy places such as busy restaurants; trouble hearing the voices of women and small children; turning up the television or radio too loud for others who are nearby.
Do you think you may be experiencing hearing loss? If so, talk to your primary care doctor, or seek help from a specialist such as an audiologist. A full hearing exam will not only teach you about your hearing loss, but you will be told what can be done to treat it.