Diabetes, we know, is the cause of several complications in the body. Not many people know but both type 1 and type 2 diabetes have been associated with causing hearing loss in the patients. This article analyses and explains the relationship between the two. So, join in for the article “Diabetes and Hearing Loss: What’s the Connection?”
Table of Contents
What is Hearing Loss?
When a person loses the capacity to hear either partially or completely, he or she is known to be suffering from hearing loss. Hearing loss can be distinguished into four levels depending on the severity, namely, mild, moderate, severe, and profound deafness.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss?
Following are some of the signs and symptoms of hearing loss:
- You start finding it difficult to hear when other people speak.
- You try to listen to people but are unable to do so.
- Start listening to music or watch TV in a very high volume.
- Most of the times, you miss the doorbell or are unable to hear the sound of the telephone, alarm clock, etc.
When you start experiencing any of the above signs of hearing loss, or experience excruciating pain in your ears, you should go and see the doctor immediately in such a situation.
It is a well-known fact that if you have diabetes, the chances of you developing problems in the ear increase twice as much as a person who does not have diabetes. As per the National Institutes of Health, diabetes doubles the chances of hearing loss. Having said that, it is important to remember that diabetes is not the sole reason why a person might suffer from hearing loss.
There are various risk factors that can cause defects in hearing. A few risk factors include:
- Regular exposure to a loud noise
- Family history of hearing loss
- Earwax collected in the ear
- Structural issues in the ear
- Certain types of medicines which might adversely affect the hearing of an individual
Thus, as seen above, although diabetes does increase the chances of a person getting affected by hearing loss, it does not necessarily lead to the same. There are various other factors that can cause the problem too.
How Does Diabetes Affect Your Hearing?
As per a few studies conducted by experts, there is a strong connection between diabetes and hearing loss. There are various ways in which diabetes can cause damage to this delicate organ of ours. These ways are explained as below:
- Hearing loss and damage to the ears in diabetes could be due to the poor circulation of blood. We know that when a person is suffering from diabetes, there are high chances that he or she will have high levels of blood sugar in the body. The result of this is that the various blood vessels of the body suffer a considerable amount of damage. Thus, the inner ear structures experience a huge damage leading to hearing loss in patients.
- Hearing loss is also directly related to the high levels of hemoglobin or A1c levels in the patient’s body. As per the American Diabetes Association, the higher the percentage of A1c levels in the patient’s body, the higher is the risk of developing hearing loss in such a patient.
- There are specialized cells in the body which regulate the process of hearing. These specialized cells are known as the hair cells. These cells are very small and fragile. Even a very small increase in the levels of blood glucose can cause damage to them, thereby affecting hearing in diabetes patients.
- A few diabetes patients may also suffer from what is known as Maternity Inherited Diabetes and Deafness. This is a specific type of diabetes that develops due to mutations in the DNA of patients. This affects around 1 percent of the diabetes patients.
Treatment for Hearing Loss:
Depending on the type of hearing loss and the factors that cause the impairment, there are different treatments available. Following are a few popular treatments that help in the prevention of hearing loss:
- Hearing aids such as the electronic devices are the most common treatment for hearing loss.
- If the hearing loss is severe, doctors implant a surgical device inside the ears.
- There are various medicines that are available in the market. These include different antibiotics.
- If there is a blockage in the ears caused by the accumulation of earwax, the same is removed through different methods.
- In certain cases, minor or major surgery is also performed. Surgery is generally done when the loss is due to a birth defect, tumor, head trauma, etc.
Tips to Protect Your Ear from Diabetes:
Following are a few guidelines which when followed, will go a long way in protecting your ears if you are a diabetes patient:
- The best way to keep diabetes under control and thereby reducing the other complications caused by the condition, you need to keep your blood sugar and glucose levels under control.
- Similarly, you need to keep a tab on the total level of A1c. There is a direct relationship between hearing loss and the A1c levels. Keeping the A1c levels under control will also help you in preventing a number of diabetes related complications, including hearing loss.
- Keep a tab on the total carbohydrate intake. Make sure you are in taking only the recommended amount of carbohydrate in a day.
- Keep exercising regularly. For best results, you need to exercise for at least 20 to 25 minutes at least five times in a week.
- Consult an expert to control your overall diet and also eat in small portions.
- Shed all those extra calories and maintain the right weight.
- Avoid smoking and drinking
- Whenever you feel that you are having hearing problems, you should immediately consult your doctor.
All the above-mentioned guidelines, although very minute, will go a long way in protecting your ears. Make them a part of your daily routine and stay healthy.
We hope that the above article has been helpful in improving your understanding of the relationship between diabetes and hearing loss. Although hearing loss may be caused due to several other factors, diabetes does play a role in adversely affecting your hearing capability. However, with a few guidelines and available treatments, it is absolutely possible to protect your ears and hearing capacity!