Diabetes Complications You May Not Know About

What conditions you need to be aware of when you have diabetes.

Jean Weiss
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Hearing loss
What it is: Even though sound waves still reach the cochlea in the inner ear, some people with diabetes have difficulty hearing, possibly because the condition affects the sensation of hearing in the inner ear or modifies the way sound waves are interpreted by the brain, says Gordon B. Hughes, MD, program director, clinical trials division of scientific programs, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Why you could be at risk: When you have diabetes, the tiny blood vessels throughout your body can become inflamed. This can reduce blood flow in your brain and possibly in your inner ear, causing changes in nerve reception, regulation and transmission, says Dr. Hughes.

Keep an eye out for: Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. Dizziness can also be a symptom. And although hearing loss from diabetes is usually gradual, sometimes you can have a sudden loss, especially in one ear.

To rein in your risk: Controlling your diabetes as best you can should help prevent hearing loss, says Dr. Hughes.

April 2013