Diabetes is a chronic systemic disease where the body either cannot produce enough insulin or cannot properly use the insulin that it does produce. Insulin is a hormone that controls glucose (sugar) levels in the blood. Abnormalities in blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels, nerves and organs of the body. This can lead to complications such as kidney and eye disease, nerve damage, heart attacks and strokes. Today, over 11 million Canadians are living with diabetes or pre-diabetes (Canadian Diabetes Association, 2019).
We have known for quite some time that there is a correlation between diabetes and hearing loss; however, the exact rationale for this remains unknown. One theory suggests that high blood glucose levels associated with diabetes may lead to damage to the blood vessels and nerves of the inner ear, similarly to how diabetes can be damaging to many other parts of the human body.
While it is important for everyone to have their hearing tested, it is especially important for patients with diabetes so that if a hearing loss does exist, it can be detected and treated sooner rather than later.