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Diabetes and Hearing Loss

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diabetes and hearing loss

Many people with diabetes experience complications that can affect different parts of the body. However, not many people are aware that hearing loss is one of them. Hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes than in those who don’t have the disease. People who have pre-diabetes also have a higher rate of hearing loss than those who don’t.

At this time, it isn’t exactly known why there is a higher rate of hearing loss in people with diabetes, but it’s thought to be caused by high blood glucose levels. High blood glucose causes nerve damage, or neuropathy, as well as damage to the blood vessels. This commonly affects the eyes and kidneys. Researchers believe that the inner ear is affected in the same way, causing hearing loss.

The specific type of hearing loss that is associated with diabetes is known as sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels in the cochlea of the ear, which can lead to damage of the nerve leading from the ear to the brain. People experiencing sudden sensorineural hearing loss can have difficulty hearing and understanding what someone is saying. Having that person speak louder will only distort their speech making it even harder to hear and understand.

Even if you don’t believe you’re experiencing hearing loss, it’s important to recognize the symptoms. Because loss of hearing occurs gradually, you may not notice any change. Other people are more likely to notice long before you realize it’s a problem.

Hearing loss is also a symptom of many other conditions. If you experience hearing loss after the onset of diabetes, it could be a complication of the disease and should be checked by a doctor immediately. It’s important to have your hearing checked annually by a physician or an audiologist, even if you don’t appear to have symptoms.

Prevention of diabetes-induced hearing loss

Research has shown there are simple ways for a person with diabetes to prevent hearing loss.
• Control and monitor blood glucose levels, keeping your A1c under 7 percent.
• Control and monitor blood pressure.
• Control high cholesterol levels.
• Get the proper nutrition.
• Exercise and keep off excess weight.

If you have diabetes and are experiencing a hearing problem, or feel you are at risk of developing a hearing problem, you need to take extra care of your ears and hearing to avoid contributing to a problem before it even begins.

• Avoid loud noises by wearing ear plugs, such as when using vacuum cleaners, grass mowers, weed-wackers, fireworks, concerts, etc.
• Avoid wearing earphones at the loudest setting.
• Wear earplugs while swimming or showering to avoid swimmer’s ear.
• See a doctor immediately at any sign of an ear infection.

It’s important to see your doctor if you experience any complications that may be related to your diabetes.

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