Type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes may increase individuals' risk of hearing loss

People who have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes are often told that proper diabetes management is necessary if they want to avoid common health complications related to the blood sugar disorder.

Some conditions that are associated with uncontrolled blood glucose levels include blindness, kidney disease and foot problems that may require amputation.

In addition to these risks, individuals who have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes may be more likely than people without the diseases to experience hearing loss.

A recent study presented at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association indicated that diabetics have a two-fold increased risk of developing impaired hearing.

The research was a review of 11 previous studies, which involved 6,725 people with hearing impairment - 1,069 of whom had diabetes - and 21,734 non-hearing impaired people, including 2,319 with diabetes.

Although the scientists did not find a direct cause for the increased risk of hearing loss among individuals with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, some hypothesize that it has to do with the effects of high blood sugar levels on blood vessels in the ear.

“Diabetes can damage the blood vessels and the nerves. Small blood vessels and nerves exist in the ears. If not enough blood can get to the ear canal, then hearing loss could occur," said endocrinologist Spyros Mezitis, quoted by

The website cited a 2008 study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, which found that even people with pre-diabetes had a 30-percent increased risk of experiencing hearing loss.

Diligent diabetes management has been known to reduce the odds of patients developing complications. Some techniques that are often recommended to help control blood glucose levels include consuming a diabetic diet, engaging in regular physical activity and adhering to prescribed regimens for diabetes medications.