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Diabetes and Hearing Loss
Did you know that…?
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 48 million have some type of hearing loss. Interestingly, a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine revealed a correlation between the two health issues.
Why the association of diabetes and hearing loss?
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 controlled.
Diabetes related hearing loss
Diabetes related hearing loss typically starts gradually and then progresses. Usually it is bilateral and sensorineural in nature, predominantly affecting the higher frequencies. With the increasing prevalence of diabetes in the U.S., many professionals are taking notice. Catherine Cowie, Ph.D., of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), states, “Hearing loss may be an under-recognized complication of diabetes. As the diabetes becomes more common, the disease may become a more significant contributor to hearing loss.”
Signs and symptoms of hearing loss:
Progressive hearing loss is typically a slow, gradual process and the symptoms can often be hard to notice. In fact, often friends and family members notice the hearing loss before the person experiencing it. Some signs and symptoms include:
Tips and Recommendations
Bainbridge, K.E., PhD, MPH; Hoffman, H.J., MA, Cowie, C.C., PhD, MPH (2008). Diabetes and Hearing Impairment in the United States: Audiometric Evidence from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999 to 2004. Annals of Internal Medicine, 1-9.