Diabetes and Hearing Loss

Diabetes and hearing loss are two of America’s most common health concerns. Nearly 26 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and an estimated 36 million have some type of hearing loss.

Some facts about diabetes and hearing loss:

- The National Institute of Health has found that hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes as it is in those who don’t have the disease. Even people with pre-diabetes are more likely to develop hearing loss (30% higher).

- The inner ear depends on small blood vessels and nerves to stay healthy. Over time, high blood glucose levels can damage these vessels and nerves, diminishing the ability to hear.

- Hearing loss is often worsened in diabetic patients when their blood-glucose levels are not being controlled

Tips for people with diabetes and hearing loss:

- Get your hearing tested. The earlier a hearing loss is diagnosed the earlier it can be treated. Untreated hearing loss can contribute to social isolation, lower earnings, and reduced quality of life. By contrast, hearing aid users report significant improvements in relationships, self-esteem, overall quality of life, mental health and safety.

- Exercise and a balanced diet can help with both diabetes and hearing health. Exercise increases blood flow in your body, including the blood that flows to your ears. A balanced diet with foods that are rich in antioxidants (e.g., vitamins A, C, & E) can help protect ear cells against free radicals that are generated by loud noise.