What is the connection between diabetes and hearing loss?

According to the CDC, there are more than 37 million Americans with diabetes and 96 million Americans with prediabetes. This means that over a third of US adults are affected by diabetes or prediabetes. 

Given the high number of adults in the United States who suffer from blood sugar regulation, it is essential to spread the word about the increased risk of hearing loss associated with diabetes and prediabetes. 

Those with diabetes are twice as likely to have a hearing loss. People who have prediabetes are 30% more likely to have a hearing loss compared to those without (Samocha-Bonet et al., 2021). 

If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, be proactive and have your hearing evaluated. 

Diabetes and Hearing Loss: The Importance of Early Diagnosis

As some people may be aware, the imbalance of blood sugar can lead to nerve damage in many parts of the body. Often nerve damage can occur in the fingers and toes. It can also occur in the ears. 

The ears have many small blood vessels that can be damaged by high blood sugar levels (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). 

Prolonged low blood sugar levels can also be detrimental to hearing by damaging the nerve of hearing that takes the sound signal from the ear to the brain (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). 

People with diabetes or prediabetes may not even realize that they have hearing loss since damage can occur slowly over time. Often, they may not notice an overall volume change, but things may not be as clear as they once used to. 

Individuals with hearing loss often feel that others are mumbling because they are missing certain speech sounds. Some subtle changes that individuals with hearing loss may notice are increasing the television volume louder than others or having trouble understanding others in noisy situations. 

At the end of the day, it is always better to be proactive and have hearing loss diagnosed as soon as possible. 

Untreated hearing loss can be detrimental to the brain and will raise the risk of dementia. It is very important to diagnose and treat hearing loss early to reduce the risk of additional health issues. 

Benefits of Early Intervention

By getting hearing aids and allowing the brain to hear the frequencies that it has been missing, the brain can once again gain access to all of the speech sounds. 

This will give an individual’s brain the input that it needs to stay healthier and more active than it would be if it continued to miss out on sounds. 

Untreated hearing loss can be very isolating, with voices and environmental sounds often being missed. Keeping people connected to others and their environment is an important part of healthy living. Treating hearing loss can play a large part in the overall well-being of a person.  

How Diabetics Can Lower Risk For Hearing Loss

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes there are some things you can do to decrease your risk for hearing loss. 

One study followed participants for over two decades and found that those who followed Mediterranean diets with high dietary fiber and low amounts of processed foods were less likely to develop hearing loss (Samocha-Bonet et al., 2021). 

A diabetic patient should also avoid other known risk factors that increase the likelihood of hearing loss, such as smoking and excessive noise exposure.


Being aware of the increased risk of hearing loss with diabetes and prediabetes is very important. 

This will help people take the steps they need to identify hearing loss as soon as possible. 

Early detection and treatment of hearing loss will help decrease the difficulties associated with hearing loss. 

If you or someone you know is diabetic or pre-diabetic, call Oro Valley Audiology at 520-825-4770 to schedule a hearing evaluation. 

 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, May 27). Diabetes and hearing loss. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/diabetes-hearing-loss.html 

Samocha-Bonet D, Wu B, Ryugo DK. Diabetes mellitus and hearing loss: A review. 

Ageing Res Rev. 2021 Nov;71:101423. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2021.101423. Epub 2021 Aug 9. PMID: 34384902.


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