Diabetes and Hearing Loss

Diabetes Complications

Diabetes and Hearing Loss

If you live with diabetes, you are twice as likely to experience hearing loss. Learn the early signs and what action you should take.
Woman's hand playfully touching a smiling senior man's ear

Diabetes and hearing loss are two of America's most widespread health concerns.

More than 34 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and an estimated 34.5 million have some type of hearing loss. That’s a lot of people, and it turns out many of them are experiencing both at the same time. 

A recent study found that hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes as it is in those who don't have diabetes. Also, of the 88 million adults in the United States who have prediabetes, the rate of hearing loss is 30 percent higher than in those with normal blood glucose (blood sugar).

Right now, we don't know how diabetes is related to hearing loss. It's possible that the high blood glucose levels associated with diabetes cause damage to the small blood vessels in the inner ear, similar to the way in which diabetes can damage the eyes and the kidneys. But more research needs to be done to discover why people with diabetes have a higher rate of hearing loss.

Since it can happen slowly, the symptoms of hearing loss can often be hard to notice. In fact, family members and friends sometimes notice the hearing loss before the person experiencing it.

Signs of hearing loss

  • Frequently asking others to repeat themselves
  • Trouble following conversations that involve more than two people
  • Thinking that others are mumbling
  • Problems hearing in noisy places such as busy restaurants
  • Trouble hearing the voices of women and small children
  • Turning up the TV or radio volume too loud for others who are nearby

What should I do if I suspect a hearing loss?

Talk to your primary care doctor. You may then want to seek help from hearing specialist like an audiologist, a licensed hearing aid dispenser, or a doctor who specializes in hearing problems. From a full hearing exam, you'll learn more about your hearing loss. You will also be told what can be done to treat it.