Type 2 Diabetes – The Risk of Hearing Loss Due To High Blood Sugar – Sensorineural hearing loss is the type of hearing loss typically seen with advanced age. The problem can be caused by damage to the tiny hairs in the ear’s cochlea, or damage to the cranial nerve VI, the auditory nerve. People typically have difficulty hearing high-pictched sounds, or actually do hear sounds but are unable to differentiate the words. Older people with hearing difficulties frequently complain that people generally mumble or do not enunciate clearly enough.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and several other International Centers, compared sudden sensorineural hearing loss in people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and also non-diabetics. Their results were published in the journal Otology Neurotology in October 2012.
About 54,000 people were included in the abovementioned study and they were actually followed for a period of four years. During that time it was found the people who had been diagnosed as diabetic had a 54 per cent higher risk of developing sensorineural hearing loss than did the non-diabetic individuals.
The Type 2 diabetics who were actually taking three anti-diabetic medications had more than twice the risk of sensorineural hearing loss as did the non-diabetic people. It was also found diabetics with eye or kidney disease showed a much higher risk for developing hearing difficulties. Kidney and eye disease are considered indicators of severe diabetes due to damage caused from having high blood sugar levels for long periods.
From the above information, it was concluded severe cases of diabetes were associated with a greater risk of developing sensorineural hearing loss.
High blood sugar levels are associated with nerve damage, so damage to the auditory nerve due to Type 2 diabetes is easy to imagine. Constant vigilance as to your blood sugar levels as well as sticking to a healthful diet and exercise program, are absolutely important for maintaining good blood sugar control.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association recommends screening for hearing loss:
every ten years for adults 18 to 50, and
every 3 years after age 50.
In many instances, patients must have a referral from their doctor before being seen by an audiologist. When sensorineural hearing loss is detected, a hearing aid can be fitted and tuned by an audiologist. Basically, hearing aids consist of tiny microphones, sound amplifiers, miniature loudspeakers, on/off switches, and batteries. Some hearing aids have different settings which patients can turn on and off to adjust for when they are watching television, carrying on a conversation, or talking and listening to a conversation on the telephone.