If you or someone you know has diabetes, you are probably familiar with the damage the disease can do to the circulatory system. What you might not know is that the same glucose overload that destroys parts of the body also often diminishes hearing. According to a study conducted by researchers with the National Institute of Health, some forms of hearing loss are more than twice as likely among diabetics.
It is often assumed that a hearing deficit would be quickly recognized by the individual, but an individual with hearing loss most often attributes the condition to noise levels in the room or to others’ “mumbling.” In fact, the average person waits five years before getting treatment for hearing loss!
Decreased hearing is not confined to older diabetics — children and younger adults with diabetes have shown mild to moderate levels of hearing loss. Such deterioration ensures that the auditory world is cut off from a diabetic individual, little by little. A hearing deficit can weaken a person’s ability to communicate, can lead to depression and isolation, and can contribute to Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Diabetics and their families need to be aware of this increased risk as screening for hearing loss, unlike vision, is not among the current battery of tests routinely given to diabetics. Advances in technology and testing make diagnosing and treating hearing loss relatively easy and cost-effective, thus eliminating any further barriers to improving the auditory health of a diabetic.