For people with diabetes in Bellevue and Redmond, it’s more important than ever to get their blood sugar levels under control. In addition to complications such as neuropathy, kidney and heart disease and eye problems, they also have a higher risk of hearing loss.
The Link Between Diabetes and Hearing Loss
There’s been suspicion about a correlation between diabetes and hearing loss as far back as the 1960s, and a study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine shows pretty definitive proof. Results show that diabetics are twice as likely to suffer from hearing loss than their peers with normal blood sugar levels. Even those with prediabetes have a 30 percent higher risk of a hearing impairment. This is the result of nerve and blood vessel damage to the inner ear, according to the report.
We’ve collected some FAQs about diabetes and hearing loss to help you understand more about the connection.
Q: Which parts of the ear will diabetes affect?
A: Diabetes damages the blood vessels and nerves of the inner ear, eventually leading to permanent hearing loss.
Q: What types of hearing loss are diabetics likely to experience?
A: Sensorineural hearing loss, also known as nerve deafness, is the most common type of hearing loss for people with diabetes. It is the result of nerve damage in the inner ear; high blood sugar levels can rob the sensory cells responsible for transmitting signals to the brain of blood and oxygen, causing them to die.
Q: What are the signs and symptoms of hearing loss?
A: Hearing loss usually develops gradually, making it difficult to spot the signs. You may find yourself asking people to repeat themselves quite a bit, or complain that other people are mumbling when they speak. You are likely to find it difficult to have a conversation when background noise is present and may have trouble understanding high-pitched frequencies, such as women’s voices and doorbells.
Q: How can I treat hearing loss resulting from diabetes?
A: Most patients will benefit from the use of hearing aids. These devices amplify sounds, allowing you to understand speech and other sounds more easily, and reduce listening fatigue associated with trying to follow conversations. Those with severe hearing loss might require cochlear implants, surgically-implanted devices that bypass the damaged auditory nerve and directly stimulate the nerves responsible for hearing.
Q: Can I prevent hearing loss if I have diabetes?
A: Monitoring your blood sugar levels regularly is essential in preventing many complications of diabetes, including hearing loss. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, good sleep and reducing stress can all help.
If you have diabetes and would like more information about preventing or treating hearing loss, make an appointment with an ENT doctor in Bellevue or Redmond.