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Is there a link between diabetes and hearing loss?

Diabetes and hearing loss are two of America's most widespread health concerns. Nearly 26 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and an estimated 34.5 million have some type of hearing loss.

The numbers are similar—is there a link?

Yes, says the National Institute of Health (NIH). In fact, the NIH has found that hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes as it is in those who don't have the disease. Also, of the 79 million adults thought to have prediabetes, the rate of hearing loss is 30 percent higher than in those with normal blood sugar.

Hearing depends on small blood vessels and nerves in the inner ear. Researchers believe that, over time, high blood glucose levels can damage these vessels and nerves, diminishing the ability to hear.

Everyone experiences a little hearing loss with age. But in people with diabetes, hearing loss is often worse, especially if the disease isn't well-controlled. In fact, according to the American Diabetes Association, the rate of hearing loss is 30 percent higher in people with diabetes than it is in people without diabetes. That's because hearing relies on small blood vessels and nerves in the inner ear. High glucose levels can damage those vessels and nerves, which weakens hearing. Ask your doctor for a hearing test if you're having trouble.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.