November is National Diabetes Month, which means there’s no better time to learn about the disease and its connection to others, particularly hearing loss. Below we provide an overview of a study linking diabetes to hearing loss and discuss how the two are related.
About the Study
The study was published in Annals of Internal Medicine in June 2008 and was conducted by researchers from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Social & Scientific Systems, Inc.
For the study, researchers analyzed data collected between 1999 and 2004 from participants ages 20 to 69. A total of 2,259 participants received both hearing and blood glucose tests.
The researchers found that:
- People with diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing loss compared to people without.
- People who are pre-diabetic are 30% more likely to have hearing loss compared to people who are not.
According to the study authors, “This is the first study of a nationally representative sample of working age adults, 20 to 69 years old, and we found an association between diabetes and hearing impairment evident as early as ages 30 to 40.”
Why the Link?
While researchers aren’t exactly sure why there’s a link between diabetes and hearing loss, they have a number of theories.
One theory is that high blood sugar can damage the nerves throughout the body, which is known as diabetic neuropathy. While this most often occurs in the feet and legs, it can also affect the hearing nerve.
Another theory is that high blood sugar can damage the small blood vessels within the inner ear, compromising hearing ability.
What You Can Do
Both theories have to do with high blood sugar. Following a diet approved by your physician and buying healthy foods from People’s Food Co-Op may be the best thing you can do for your hearing health if you are diabetic.
For more information about the link between diabetes and hearing loss or to schedule an appointment with a hearing loss expert, call Mt. Hood ENT today.