For years I have recommended that those with diabetes have an annual hearing test to accompany their yearly eye exam and physical.
The National Institute of Health (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. Specifically, that hearing impairment in the low/mid- and high-frequency range to be associated with low HDL and coronary heart disease history, respectively. The current theory is that hearing loss accompanies an atherosclerotic mechanism affecting the inner ear.
Hearing loss due to diabetes is typically a high frequency sensorineural (nerve) hearing loss which can be treated successfully with hearing aids. The earlier a hearing loss is diagnosed the earlier it can be treated.
Studies have shown that untreated hearing loss can have a negative impact on quality of life. Thus for diabetics, the sooner the hearing loss is treated the better. It is also recommended that those with diabetes have an annual hearing test to accompany their yearly eye exam and physical.
If you or a loved one has diabetes and have not had a hearing test, make an appointment today.
Dr. Paige Peterson is an Audiologist at Great Hills ENT in Austin, TX and specializes in hearing related disorders including tinnitus and hearing loss, neurophysiological disorders as well as dizziness/balance disorders. Dr. Peterson is Board Certified in Audiology and is currently accepting new adult and pediatric audiology patients. Great Hills ENT serves the greater Austin area including Georgetown, Cedar Park, Lago Vista, Jonestown, Steiner Ranch, Lakeway, Spicewood and Point Venture. We are proud to provide excellent care to our patients for general Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) services, hearing loss, hearing aids, dizziness/vertigo and sleep disorders.