Caring Currents

Hearing Loss and Diabetes

Last updated:

June 26, 2008

Listen up: There's yet another test to add to the list of health checks and screens for your parent with type 2 diabetes. Turns out that hearing loss may be an under-recognized complication of diabetes.

A recent NIH study found that hearing impairment is almost twice as common in adults with diabetes compared with the general population -- and diabetes appears to be a risk factor for the condition, independent of exposure to noise, certain medications, or other known potential hearing loss triggers.

Of course, hearing impairment and old age tend to go together, but a strong connection between diabetes and trouble hearing has only been hinted at until now. Researchers speculate that diabetes may lead to hearing loss by damaging the nerves and blood vessels of the inner ear.

So, when your parent goes for a doctor's visit and gets screened for the usual suspects -- foot problems, high blood pressure, and blood sugar -- make sure she gets checked for some of the lesser known diabetes-linked ailments, such as depression, sleep apnea, gum disease -- and get those ears checked too.

Do you hear me loud and clear?

Image by Flickr user altemark used under the Creative Commons attribution license.