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Is there a Connection Between Diabetes and Hearing Loss?

Yes. Hearing loss is a known complication of diabetes, so hearing abilities should be regularly assessed in people with diabetes. Currently hearing tests are not a regular part of medical monitoring for people with diabetes, causing many people to go without treatment for their hearing impairment.

Why Does Diabetes Cause Hearing Loss?

Diabetes can cause hearing impairments when high levels of blood sugar damage the hearing organ, called the cochlea. This damage will initially cause hearing loss in the high pitches and overtime can cause hearing loss in the low pitches as well. Diabetes also can cause neuropathy of the hearing nerve, which makes speech sound distorted and hard to understand. 

What are the signs of hearing loss?

  • Difficulty understanding speech in crowds or restaurants
  • Increased television volume
  • Frequently asking people to repeat
  • Feeling like everyone around you is mumbling
  • Misunderstanding other’s speech
  • Ringing or buzzing sounds (tinnitus) in your ears

People with untreated hearing loss are often tired due to the extra effort it takes throughout the day to hear others. Untreated hearing loss can lead to social isolation, depression, anxiety, and arguments with family or friends. Hearing loss has even been linked to decreased annual income.

Treatment of hearing loss can include using good communication strategies, and wearing hearing aids or other assistive listening devices. If you have diabetes and suspect you may have hearing loss, talk to your doctor or see an audiologist to find out what options are available to you.