Hearing Loss, Heart Disease and Diabetes

Man with chest pain

There is no part of the human body that operates on its own. The ears have an intimate connection with the brain, the brain is affected by the quality of the blood, and blood is controlled by the heart.

It’s no secret that to live a happy and healthy life, your whole body needs to be in sync. If it isn’t, you may notice impairment in your mental state, motor skills, or even your hearing.

If you think your hearing is suffering due to a separate health issue, make sure to avoid the easy trap of self-diagnosing. The only person who can give you a definitive answer is a qualified medical professional, in the form of a trained audiologist.

How does diabetes cause hearing loss?

To understand how diabetes affects someone’s hearing, we’ll need to do a mini crash course on diabetes itself. Most people have a general idea of what diabetes is – a blood disease relating to sugar levels – but we’ll need to look at some specifics.

Obviously if you’re diabetic, or reading this article for someone who is, you’re probably informed enough about the condition – so feel free to skip ahead.

How does diabetes work?

Diabetes is split into two types, but for the purpose of this article, we’ll just be referring to the overall condition. Diabetes is basically a disease where the insulin levels within a person’s blood are compromised.

But why is maintaining insulin levels so important? What actually is insulin? This is where the aforementioned sugar comes into play. No surprise here – too much glucose (sugar) is bad for you. Insulin is crucial in absorbing glucose in a person’s blood, so when insulin levels are low, the levels of sugar can get dangerously high.

Diabetes Glucometer

This is why the main way of treating diabetes is injecting insulin – to restore the body’s insulin levels in order to appropriately handle glucose.

How does this affect hearing?

So diabetes calls for intense monitoring of sugar intake and insulin levels, but what does this have to do with your ears? Well, while there’s definitely a correlation between diabetes and hearing loss, unfortunately, we haven’t nailed down why this correlation occurs. At least, not yet.

As with any phenomenon, there are some ideas, and research is being done, but it’s mostly educated theorizing. These theories are based mainly on the relationship between blood and the ears.

Ears, like our entire body, are fueled by the oxygen in the blood that flows through them. However, of all the various body parts, few are more delicate and reliant on blood than the ears. This means that the slightest imbalance in the levels of glucose or oxygen in your blood can slowly wear down your ears.

How does heart disease cause hearing loss?

Another interior threat to the ears comes in the form of heart disease. “Heart disease” is a bit of a blanket term, but you might be able to guess that an issue with your heart can lead to an issue with your blood. And as we mentioned earlier, a problem with your blood can lead to damaged ears.

For example, a lot of heart problems can lead to high or low blood pressure. Both of these conditions mean that oxygen isn’t adequately supplied to the smaller vessels in the body, just like the ones in the ears. This essentially suffocates the small hair cells in the inner ear, leading to hearing loss.

Diabetes and heart disease treatments

You might be wondering how to address these problems, if not for your hearing, then perhaps for the overall condition of your body. If that’s the case, here are some treatment options. Just to make it obvious, these conditions are serious, and therefore the treatments won’t be home remedies. They’ll be professionally prescribed and administered.

Diabetes treatments

As we mentioned earlier, the main treatment for type-1 diabetes is insulin injections. These help restore insulin levels to their ideal conditions, allowing for normal glucose absorption. There are four varieties of insulin, sorted by the speed at which they work. These will be prescribed based on the intensity of the patient’s diabetes.

Treatment for type-2 diabetes is a bit more complicated. Heavy diet regulation and exercise are recommended as a baseline lifestyle to counteract diabetes’ effects, but there are some medications with long confusing names that also help lower the body’s blood sugar.

Some examples of these types of medications are sulfonylureas, which stimulate the pancreas into releasing more insulin, or biguanides, which slows down the liver’s glucose production rates.

Heart disease treatments

Like we said, “heart disease” can refer to any number of things. It’s hard to offer exact treatment options when there could be any number of reasons behind the problem. Diet and exercise are great places to start, but we shouldn’t be giving you advice for a condition we can’t diagnose.

Heart Disease Diet consisting of fruit and vegetables

The obvious advice that we’re still obligated to give is to go see your healthcare provider and get a proper diagnosis from a qualified cardiologist.

“If you have been diagnosed with diabetes or heart disease, it is important to have your hearing evaluated. Even if your condition is being managed, your hearing may be affected.” – Lindsey Banks, Au.D.

Overall

The unfortunate truth about hearing loss is that, just like diabetes, there is no cure – only treatment. That’s why, if you know you’re suffering from diabetes or heart disease, you need to be careful that you don’t cause irreparable damage to your ears. There are obviously multiple reasons to stay on top of your condition, but if you need one more, do it for your hearing.

If you’d like tips on how to protect your hearing, or if you think you may have lost some hearing ability already, you may want to book a hearing consultation to get a solid answer. Fill out our form to book an appointment with a hearing specialist near you.

 

Duncan is an Australian-born American-raised creative writer with a passion for healthy ears. He continues to build upon his audiology qualifications with research and various courses. Duncan has been working alongside Florida-based audiologist Lindsey Banks, Au.D., to make sure that Clear Living has the most up-to-date content.

Lindsey Banks is a graduate of the Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) program at the University of Florida. She uses her diverse experience in hearing healthcare and her passion for helping people to provide credible information to those with hearing loss who visit Clear Living.

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