Diabetes and hearing loss: Causes, symptoms and treatments

Published 12 November 2021  | Updated 16 May 2024  | 3 mins read

You may know that early diabetes can, in some circumstances, be detected through an eye test. But did you know that there’s also a link between diabetes and hearing loss?

Research suggests that hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes. In the UK alone, nearly five million people are living with diabetes, so it’s important to know what to look for*.

How does diabetes cause hearing loss?

Whilst no one can say for certain, one theory is that high blood sugars may damage the tiny blood vessels that support and feed the inner ear.

Just like high blood sugars can impact vision and kidney function, the blood vessel system that feeds the ear is very similar. As this system is damaged, hearing could be impaired.

How can I prevent it?

In short, the better you can control your blood sugar, the less likely it will be that high blood sugar will impact your hearing. Taking your subscribed medication and following a healthy diet treatment plan plays a critical part in protecting your hearing.

If you have diabetes, it is also recommended that you get your hearing checked on an annual basis. Even if you don’t think that your hearing has changed currently, changes can occur quickly, just like with your vision.

What are the signs and symptoms of hearing loss?

Father and son

It may be that your friends and family members will notice changes to your hearing before you do. However, the most common signs and symptoms include:

  • Often asking others to repeat themselves.
  • Trouble following conversations with more than one person.
  • Problems hearing in noisy places, such as busy restaurants and cafes.
  • Difficulty hearing during telephone conversations.
  • Turning up the TV or radio volume too loud for others who are nearby.

If you are concerned about your hearing, why not take our FREE 1-minute online hearing check? This test is designed to help you determine your current hearing health and can be completed from the comfort of your own home.

How can I treat hearing loss?

Whilst nothing can be done to reverse hearing loss when it’s permanent in nature, hearing aids can be a great help. Finding the right hearing aids for you can make social situations more comfortable, and conversations with family and friends much less frustrating by reducing the amount of effort it requires to keep up with speech/conversations. Many remember hearing aids as fiddly and bulky devices which may cause some initial hesitancy, but the latest technological advancements mean they are now quite the opposite. Small, light and unobtrusive, it’s amazing how quickly technology moves on.

Brands such as Oticon, for example, have created hearing aids that are fantastic at restoring natural sound, with the ability to adjust the hearing aids’ settings such as volume control via your smartphone.

Worried about your hearing?

If you would like to book an appointment with our audiologists, please call us on 0800 52 00 546 or follow the link to find your local THCP practice.

*Diabetes UK – https://www.diabetes.org.uk/about_us/news_landing_page/2008/new-research-claiming-link-between-diabetes-and-hearing-loss