Diabetes and hearing loss – the link!

How does diabetes cause hearing loss?

It’s possible that the high blood glucose levels associated with diabetes cause damage to the small blood vessels in the inner ear, similar to the way in which diabetes can damage the eyes and the kidneys.  In the UK 1 in 6 people suffer from a hearing impairment whether a partial loss or a complete inability to hear.

A number of factors can be involved in causing a hearing loss;

  • Damage to the auditory nerve – the sensitive hair cells inside the cochlea (part of the inner ear), which transmit the impulses from the cochlea to the hearing centre in the brain. This is an age-related and permanent form of hearing loss known as sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Blockages or build-up of fluid – earwax, ear infections, a perforated ear drum or damage to the hearing bones can all prevent sounds from passing from your outer ear to your inner ear. This is known as conductive hearing impairment, and is often a temporary problem.

Is diabetes a risk factor for deafness?

Diabetes has been linked to the development of hearing problems in various research studies.

Health experts medical researchers have debated the possible link between diabetes and hearing loss since the 1960s and early attempts to establish such as association were not very convincing. But in recent years there has been growing evidence to suggest diabetes contributes to hearing loss.

NIH research

In June 2008, a study by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found a strong and consistent link between impaired hearing and diabetes.

After analysing the results of hearing tests given to a nationally representative sample of working-age adults in America, the investigators found participants with diabetes or pre-diabetes were more likely to have at least mild hearing loss in their ability to hear low-to-mid and high-frequency tones compared to people without diabetes.

The results remained the same after accounting for major factors known to affect hearing, such as age, noise exposure, and the use of certain medications.

If you would like to know more about hearing loss and diabetes we will be happy to help, pop along to Liverton Opticians, Charles Street, Newport for an informal chat and a hearing test.