Diabetes Increases Your Risk for Hearing Loss

November 21st, 2014 by Joan D'Alessandro Au.D., F-AAA Comments »

diabetes & hearing loss


Not just a problem for seniors

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have established a definite link between the occurrence of hearing loss and diabetes. This large study, completed in 2008, looked at more than 11,000 people of working age (20 to 69 years old) and found an association between diabetes and hearing loss in people as young as 30 to 40.

Diabetes afflicts millions

About 26 million Americans have diabetes, and another 79 million have prediabetes. A prediabetic condition will turn into Type II diabetes within 10 years unless preventive steps, such as diet and lifestyle changes, are taken.

Diabetes is the cause of many ailments

Why are diabetes and prediabetes major health risks? Diabetes is a major cause of heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and a numbing/tingling sensation in the legs that may lead to amputation of the affected limb. This insulin-deficiency disease comes in two forms, Type I and Type II. Of those with a diagnosis, 95% fall into the Type II category, which is frequently referred to as adult-onset diabetes. This type is helped with medications, as well as exercise and diet.

How diabetes affects hearing

How does diabetes affect hearing? Diabetes has a deleterious effect on your blood supply, especially the very tiny blood vessels that supply the structures of the eye and the inner ear. When blood flow is reduced, these structures are left weakened and can eventually die off. The inner ear has approximately 20,000 sensory cells that “code” the acoustic information as it arrives. When these structures are damaged, the sound information is only partially transmitted to the acoustic and speech reception centers of your brain. Most people will develop a loss that causes problems with comprehension of speech. Many of the consonant sounds are lost. Imagine trying to read a newspaper with the letters s, p, t, k, sh, and f taken out. That’s what happens with hearing loss.

We can help

If you have diabetes or prediabetes, contact your local AudigyCertified™ practice for a full hearing evaluation.