By Sheana A. Richardson, Au.D, Savannah Speech & Hearing Center
According to the Better Hearing Institute, research shows people with diabetes are twice as likely to develop hearing loss. In fact, the American Diabetes Association claims nearly 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes and an estimated 34.5 million have some type of hearing loss, making diabetes and hearing loss two of America’s most widespread health concerns.
In fact, another recent study found hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes as opposed to those without and of the 86 million adults in the U.S. who have pre-diabetes, the rate of hearing loss is an incredible 30 percent higher than in those with normal blood glucose.
While the exact root cause of how diabetes is linked to hearing loss is not known, some experts believe it’s possible high blood glucose levels associated with diabetes cause damage to the small blood vessels in the inner ear, similar to the way in which diabetes can damage the eyes and the kidneys. It’s unfortunate, however, hearing tests are frequently overlooked in routine diabetes care.
Since hearing loss can happen slowly, the symptoms can often be hard to notice and most often it’s family members and friends who are the first to notice the hearing loss before the person experiencing it.
Here are some common signs of hearing loss:
- 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 TV or radio volume too loud for others who are nearby
No matter your age or health issue, regular hearing screenings are just as important as getting your eyes and cholesterol checked. It’s helpful to have a baseline to refer to in the event of future issues. Unaddressed hearing loss can interfere with good diabetes management and if left untreated is often associated with other significant physical, mental, and emotional health conditions.
The Better Hearing Institute and American Diabetes Association both offer some very helpful information on hearing loss and diabetes. If you or someone you know is experiencing hearing loss, it’s recommended to consult with a hearing specialist such as an audiologist. A full hearing exam will help you discover just how significant the hearing loss is and treatment options available.
Sheana A. Richardson, Au.D., is an audiologist at Savannah Speech and Hearing Center. To schedule an appointment or for more information, please call 912-355-4601 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.