Experiencing hearing loss can be contributed to high levels of glucose.
Both diabetes and hearing loss is very common among American adults. Approximately 15% of American adults (37.5 million) have reported difficulty with their hearing. These symptoms increase as people age. About 25% of individuals between the ages of 65 and 74 fall under this category. Nearly 50% of people who are 75 years of age, or older, experience a disabling hearing loss. These two groups, those with diabetes and those with hearing loss, have an overlap.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) reported that people with diabetes are two times more likely to have hearing loss, than those who do not have diabetes. American patients who have prediabetes blood glucose levels tend to have a 30% higher rate of hearing loss than individuals with normal blood glucose levels.
The ADA recently started recognizing that hearing loss is prevalent among people with diabetes. Recently, hearing healthcare referrals are now being provided to patients for initial diabetes care management.
Difficulty with hearing in both high and low frequencies is a prevailing symptom in diabetic patients.
Stronger links have been detected in studies on younger individuals.
According to an analysis by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), deterioration of one’s hearing was two times more likely in patients with diabetes, as opposed to those without diabetes. This assessment was made after adjusting for each patient’s age and other possible risk factors for hearing impairment.
Risk factors for hearing impairment for patients with diabetes include coronary heart disease, low HDL cholesterol, peripheral neuropathy, and poor health in general, but a connection between hearing loss and blood glucose levels has not been routinely observed.
Patients with diabetes and other chronic diseases have been encouraged to get a hearing test because medications related to the disease have affected patients’ overall health, which can impact their hearing health.
How Diabetes can Induce Hearing Loss
There are theories that diabetes can negatively affect hearing and vestibular function. The ear’s physique makes it more complicated to research this information. The small and fragile structures of the ear make it extremely difficult for the dissection and medical imaging studies to inspect the effect of diabetes in the inner ear.
There are animal models that can be dissected to see where damage is done, then from that information you need to interpret what that suggests for humans. A lot of the science leans on interpretations which is what makes it so difficult.
It’s important to note that the majority of studies have shown a distinct parallel between hearing loss and diabetes. There are three central theories for how diabetes can directly or indirectly damage your hearing health.
Diabetes can Contribute to Falls
Other concerns for anyone with hearing loss and diabetes are falls. The vestibular system - the sensory system that provides the primary sense of balance and spatial orientation in one’s movement with balance - is located in the inner ear, and can become damaged due to diabetes. Dizziness is the number one complaint in patients over 70 years old.
A hearing test can be administered in diabetic patients, and if hearing loss is identified in the results, hearing aids can be worn. This can slow down hearing loss and help with balance issues.
If you or a loved one are experiencing hearing loss or balance problems caused by hearing loss, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.