Diabetes and Hearing Loss

Did you know that diabetes can be a risk factor for hearing loss?

Over time, blood sugar levels that are too high or too low can damage nerves that affect your hearing. As a result, diabetes patients should get their hearing checked annually or if they sense they are not hearing as well as they should.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, hearing loss is twice as common in people who have diabetes as it is in people of the same age who don’t. Even people with prediabetes (blood sugar levels higher than normal but not high enough yet to have type 2 diabetes) have a 30% higher rate of hearing loss than people with normal blood sugar levels.

2008 study by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases measured participants’ ability to hear low, middle, and high-frequency sounds in both ears. The link between diabetes and hearing loss was evident across all frequencies, with a stronger association in the high-frequency range. Mild or greater hearing impairment of low- or mid-frequency sounds in the worse ear was about 21 percent in 399 adults with diabetes compared to about 9 percent in 4,741 adults without diabetes. For high-frequency sounds, mild or greater hearing impairment in the worse ear was 54 percent in those with diabetes compared to 32 percent in those who did not have the disease.

Adults with pre-diabetes, whose blood glucose is higher than normal but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis, had a 30 percent higher rate of hearing loss compared to those with normal blood sugar tested after an overnight fast.

Diabetic patients can protect their hearing by consistently monitoring their blood sugars and maintaining their target levels.

The audiology team at CNC Hearing and Balance Center can evaluate suspected hearing loss and rule out medical causes for hearing loss. For an appointment, call 504-934-8320.