Did you know diabetes can impact your hearing and balance? Diabetes can damage the nerves and blood vessels of the ear, which can have a negative effect on your balance and can cause hearing loss. In fact, hearing loss is twice as common in adults with diabetes.1 You are also at a greater risk of falling if you have diabetes because of damage to your vestibular system.2
How Does Diabetes Impact the Ears?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes can damage small blood vessels in the ears and your vestibular system, the part of the inner ear that helps with balance.
Nerve damage is also a factor—diabetes can damage auditory nerves, which may lead to hearing loss. In addition, diabetic patients often take ototoxic medications to manage their disease, which affect hearing and vestibular function.
How Will I Know if I Have a Hearing or Balance Problem?
Those with diabetes should keep an eye out for symptoms of hearing and balance problems, so they can seek help early.
Common symptoms of hearing loss include:
- Struggling to follow conversations in a group or crowded setting
- Thinking other people mumble
- Often increasing the volume on your TV or radio
- Difficulty hearing people on the phone
- Ringing in your ears
The following are indicators of a balance problem:
- Feeling faint or lightheaded
- Feeling dizzy or like the room is spinning
- Falling or feeling like you might fall
- Experiencing a floating sensation
- Having vision changes, such as blurriness
What Actions Can I Take?
- Schedule annual hearing evaluations, so changes in your hearing can be detected and treated early.
- Wear hearing protection around loud noises.
- Work with your doctor to proactively manage your health and diabetes.
- Be aware of the signs of hearing loss and balance problems; seek help if you experience any symptoms.
According to the CDC, people with diabetes should schedule an appointment with an audiologist as soon as they are diagnosed. After the initial visit, regular exams help your audiologist find and treat ear problems early to protect your hearing and balance.2
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at (415) 362-2901. You can also find the CDC’s full guide on the connection between diabetes and ear health by clicking here.
1 National Institutes of Health. (2008, June 16). Hearing Loss Is Common in People with Diabetes. Retrieved June 24, 2021, from https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/ hearing-loss-common-people-diabetes
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, March 11). Take charge of your diabetes: Healthy ears. Retrieved June 25, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/factsheets/healthy-ears.html