Hearing loss and diabetes are both extremely common medical conditions affecting more than 48 million and 30 million Americans, respectively. Because of their prevalence, it is common for individuals to have both. That made experts wonder if there was a connection.
Diabetes affects how your body uses blood sugar, known as glucose. The pancreas of those without this disease releases insulin into the bloodstream, which allows sugar to enter the cells and lower the amount of glucose in your bloodstream. Insulin is not produced by those with diabetes, and glucose builds up in the bloodstream.
Diabetes is characterized as either type 1 or type 2. Symptoms include:
- Increased thirst.
- Frequent urination.
- Extreme hunger.
- Blurred vision.
- Frequent infections.
In addition to these symptoms, there are a number of long-term complications from diabetes. These disabling and often life-threating complications include:
- Cardiovascular disease.
- Nerve damage.
- Kidney damage.
- Eye damage.
- Foot damage.
- Skin conditions.
- Alzheimer’s disease.
If you needed another reason to think twice before eating everything you bought from Cousin’s Candy Shop in one sitting, hearing loss is also included on this list.
Hearing Loss Research
According to a study funded by the National Institute of Health, hearing loss is about twice as common in adults with diabetes compared to those who do not have the disease. Senior author Dr. Catherine Cowie explains, “Hearing loss may be an under-recognized complication of diabetes. As diabetes becomes more common, the disease may become a more significant contributor to hearing loss.” She continues, “Our study found a strong and consistent link between hearing impairment and diabetes using a number of different outcomes.”
The researchers analyzed data collected between 1999 to 2004 from nearly 12,000 participants between the ages of 20 and 69. Their research found an association between diabetes and hearing impairment. While the team did not make a distinction between those who had type 1 or type 2 diabetes, almost all enrolled in the study were diagnosed with type 2.
Why Diabetes Is Linked to Hearing Loss
Experts are not sure why there is a link between these two conditions. The current theory is that diabetes can damage blood vessels and nerves throughout the body, including the inner ear. More research is needed to uncover more. To learn more about the connection between hearing loss and diabetes or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, contact San Diego ENT today.