A recent study from the National Institutes of Health has combined the results of 13 earlier diabetes studies and found that impaired hearing was twice as common among people with diabetes — yet many individuals with diabetes are still unaware of the link.
It’s still not known exactly how these conditions are related, but it appears that the high blood-glucose levels associated with diabetes can damage the small blood vessels of the inner ear.
This nationally representative study of 11,405 adults showed that diabetes and hearing loss are linked as early as age 30. And the link between diabetes and hearing loss was actually stronger in individuals 60 or younger. According to the results of the study, those under the age of 60 were over 2.5 times more likely to have some level of hearing loss.
About 95 percent of diabetes cases are type 2 diabetes, meaning they’re the result of a defect in the way the body produces or uses insulin. Type 2 diabetes typically occurs after age 40 and is far more common in people who are overweight, inactive, and have a genetic predisposition to the disease. According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes, and a startling 86 million Americans have prediabetes — as well as a rate of hearing loss 30 percent higher than those with normal blood-glucose levels.
Hearing loss caused by damage to the inner ear is irreversible. With regular checkups, however, you can make sure that you do not also suffer the adverse effects of slowly developing hearing loss, including struggles communicating at work, trouble hearing in crowded settings, or difficulties communicating with your friends and loved ones.