The Link Between Diabetes and Hearing Health
On November 14th, World Diabetes Day will be observed. The 14th is especially significant in Canada, since it is the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who worked with Charles H Best to discover insulin in Toronto in the early 20th century. Their discovery saved millions of lives over the past 100 years.
Diabetes and hearing loss share a very distinct connection. Both are “silent.” Not silent in the sense that the people who suffer from them cannot hear at all, since not everyone who suffers from hearing loss is completely deaf, but silent in the sense that others cannot easily tell that someone is suffering from either hearing loss or diabetes.
Fortunately, diabetes is often treated, but, unfortunately, hearing loss is often left unrecognized and untreated. Is it possible, though, that diabetes and hearing loss are related in some way?
- People with diabetes are more likely to also suffer from hearing loss.
- People with high blood sugar, but not diabetes, are 30% more likely to have hearing loss than those with normal blood sugar.
- People with diabetes may experience hearing loss at an earlier age than those with normal blood sugar.
- The delicate nature of blood vessels and nerves in the inner ear makes it more likely for high blood sugar to damage those blood vessels and nerves, leading to hearing loss.
With the prevalence of hearing loss in people who have diabetes, plus the potential for the early onset of hearing loss, hearing screening should be included as an annual test, alongside an eye exam, for people who suffer from diabetes.
Diabetes can take a physical toll on anyone’s health, and hearing loss, on top of that, can make matters worse by making communication with a doctor much more difficult.
Vital information beyond blood sugar levels, such as numbness in fingers and toes or increased difficulty moving about, could get lost and not be communicated.
A hearing test is the simplest way to stave off the negative effects of miscommunication, especially where diabetes is concerned.