Hearing Loss and Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, and Smoking

Hearing Loss and Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, and Smoking

Seeing as how we’ve kind of given the month of December a bit of a “Hearing Health Month” kind of flair, I would like to keep with the theme and discuss the effects a few common health issues have on hearing and hearing loss, in general.

Hearing Loss and Diabetes

According to the ADA (American Diabetes Association) and the NIH (National Institute of Health), hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes as it is in those who do not have diabetes.  It is also 30% higher in people who are thought to be pre-diabetic.  Many people wonder what one has to do with the other; isn’t it just some kind of coincidence?  No, it’s not.  Our ability to hear depends on the nerves in the inner ear, and researchers believe that over time, high blood glucose levels can damage the vessels and nerves, which diminishes the ability to hear.  While most physicians are careful and adamant to screen for eye conditions in patients who are diabetic, they may overlook the benefit of an annual hearing test to monitor loss and to make sure that patients who are candidates for hearing aids are identified and helped.

Hearing Loss and High Blood Pressure

Studies have shown that like patients with diabetes, patients who have High Blood Pressure (HBP) are also at an increased risk for hearing loss, especially noise induced hearing loss.  Again, this is attributed to the difficulties and issues with proper blood flow and innervation to the inner ear, making the patient more likely to have a sensorineural hearing loss.  HBP often includes diuretics as a part of treatment and certain diuretics have known ototoxic properties.

Hearing Loss and Smoking

A study at Western Michigan University has shown that in addition to smoking causing numerous health risks, it also puts you (or a breather of your second hand smoke) at a greater risk to develop hearing loss.  When a person smokes a cigarette, he or she actually becomes hypoxic (which means he or she lacks oxygen) because the nicotine and carbon monoxide deplete oxygen levels in the cochlear, affecting the blood supply, which in turn can damage tissue.  Smoking 10 or more cigarettes a day can adversely affect your hearing, or the hearing of those around you.  Other studies also show that the chemicals in cigarettes can not only affect the inner ear/cochlea, but that they can also affect the middle ear and the vibrations of the bones as well.

If you suffer from diabetes, HBP, or if you are smoker, have your hearing tested by a hearing healthcare professional.  Call 1-877-426-0687 to schedule an appointment today!


Until next time…


Dr. Kristin