Diabetes and Hearing Loss

By

Marijke Vroomen Durning, RN

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Hearing test

If you have diabetes, you likely know that frequent eye examinations are important because diabetes can cause vision loss. But did you know that diabetes can also affect your hearing? According to the National Institutes of Health, hearing loss among people with diabetes is an under-recognized problem although it’s up to twice as common among people with diabetes than those who don’t have the disease. In addition, people with pre-diabetes, those who have high blood glucose (sugar) but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes, are up to 30% more likely to have hearing loss.

How can diabetes affect your hearing?

If you have diabetes, your blood glucose levels are too high. With type 1 diabetes, your pancreas can’t produce the insulin your body needs and with type 2 diabetes, your pancreas does produce some insulin, but either it doesn’t produce enough or your body doesn’t use it effectively. Consistently high levels of blood glucose can damage your blood vessels, resulting in less oxygen transported to sensitive tissues. It can happen anywhere in your body, such as your eyes, causing diabetic retinopathy, a condition that causes blindness when the tiny blood vessels in the back of the eye become damaged. High blood glucose can also cause damage to your nerves over time, resulting in a condition called diabetic neuropathy.

On top of tracking your diet and blood sugar, regular exercise is a key part of managing your diabetes. And while any exercise is better than none, certain activities have specific benefits for people with diabetes.

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