In a recent study, people diagnosed with diabetes were found to be almost twice as likely to be afflicted with hearing loss than those whose tests came back negative. The severity of illness as well as the age of the patient were factors. Somewhat surprisingly, the younger the patient, the poorer the hearing threshold.

According to ASHA’s detail of the study:

“These results suggest that patients with diabetes—especially those who are younger—should be routinely screened for hearing loss. A protocol that includes extended high-frequency testing may provide additional sensitivity to diabetes-related changes in hearing.”

Why is this the case? There’s no definitive answer, but one theory has to do with blood circulation. Elevated blood sugar can injur blood vessels, “thereby reducing blood flow to certain areas…”  and causing damage to the inner ear.

According to the CDC, 29 million Americans have diabetes. An extra 89 million live with prediabetes. The last few years the numbers have been slowly declining, but it’s still considered a major public health problem.