When it comes to diabetes and hearing loss, the connection is clear. The answer as to why? Not so much.  You may not readily link the two, but they have been found by researchers to be interrelated. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes and hearing loss are the top two health concerns in this country, with 30 million people suffering from diabetes and 34.5 million individuals suffering from some degree of hearing loss. Recent studies have shown that you are twice as likely to have hearing loss if you have diabetes than other people without the disease. These studies took information from 20,000 people from various places around the Earth, including the U.S., Asia, Brazil and Australia.

Correlation Between Diabetes and Hearing Loss

Yes, many recent studies have drawn a link between diabetes and hearing loss, but the reason why diabetes causes hearing loss or vice versa is still vastly unknown. There are a few theories that have to be tested. One theory as to curbing this correlation? Diabetics should better control their blood sugar levels to reduce the risk of hearing impairment, but this is not proven yet. Even though loud noises contribute hearing loss in many people, a noisy workplace has also been ruled out as a factor in the above studies. The medications and diuretics diabetics take to keep their blood pressure could actually bring on the hearing loss, so that’s something researchers must delve into. It could point to the  high blood glucose levels that come with the territory with diabetes? These levels can damage the small blood vessels in the inner ear, known to cause hearing impairment. Researchers don’t assume age plays a role in these links, even though it’s been known for awhile now that hearing loss occurs as we age.

Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss

You should educate yourself with the signs and symptoms of hearing loss, which can include difficulty following conversations involving multiple people, trouble with perceiving others’ conversations and only hearing mumbling, problems deciphering between the voices of small children or women, and the need to put the volume on the TV or radio up way too loud. In addition, you could have trouble distinguishing words against background noise or a loud crowd of people, feeling the need to ask others to repeat themselves and hearing just a muffling of sounds on a daily basis. If you don’t get diagnosed and treated by an audiologist, you may find yourself withdrawing from social situations. There’s even a danger to your safety and that of others, such as while driving a car, for example, if you can’t hear well. You may not realize you have a problem until a spouse or close friend mentions their concerns, so take their advice and get checked.

Testing for Diabetes

When you go for your next routine health exam, ask for a hearing test. If it comes back positive for hearing loss, don’t leave without a referral to an audiologist to undergo additional evaluation. As a diabetic, you probably undergo many tests at your doctor visits, and fitting one more in seems like a hassle. But if it will help you understand others and read situations better, it’s wise to get it done. With a conclusive diagnosis, your doctor can better understand how your diabetic condition relates to your hearing loss.