A Link between Hearing Loss & Diabetes

A Link between Hearing Loss & Diabetes

Have you recently been diagnosed with diabetes? It’s a common condition in the US, affecting 37.3 million people or about 1 in 10. What is most alarming is that 1 in 5 people with diabetes don’t know they have it. This is why it’s important to screen regularly for this condition, because even if you don’t know you have it. The dangerous effects are still very active and conglomerative over years. It is a disease which effects the cells across your entire body, including your eyes, feet, kidneys, heart, and brain. Now research shows that diabetes and prediabetes patients are also at a high risk for hearing loss!

Understanding Diabetes and Its effect on the Body

Diabetes can affect any one of any age. There are two types and while the first is a rare auto immune disease primarily affecting adolescents, Type 2 is widespread and is often brought on by lifestyle choices, such as diet and lack of regular activity. It starts in the pancreas which creates a hormone called insulin which allows the cells to absorb glucose. Glucose, also known as blood sugar, is derived from the foods we eat – primarily carbohydrates and sugars. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body fails to produce a sufficient amount of insulin, obstructing the cells throughout the body from absorbing the energy they need to stay healthy. This is why diabetes is so dangerous. It can affect the health of every other part of the body, and this includes the inner ear.

Hearing Loss and Diabetes

Often underestimated in it’s severity, hearing loss affects 48 million people in the US alone. The most common type is permanent and occurs when tiny hair-like cells called stereocilia are damaged. This can impede the delivery of sound information from the ears to the brain. The stereocilia are incredibly fragile and are suspectable to the damaging nature diabetes has on cells throughout the body.

According to the 2009 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those with diabetes are twice as likely to experience hearing loss as people without diabetes. For those with prediabetes, meaning they have high blood sugar levels but not in the technical range of diabetes, are still at a 30 percent greater risk of hearing loss.

How to Manage Diabetes

There are several risk factors for diabetes such as under activity, poor diet, obesity, and family history. It’s common to live with diabetes for years without knowing it, there for if your risk demographic is higher, it’s important to screen regularly. There are several factors to take into account once you have been diagnosed with diabetes. Your doctor with prescribe you medication to control your insulin levels and keep your blood sugar at a safe level. Medication is a great way to protect your health in collaboration with eating a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins. It is also recommended to exercise at least three times a week for 30 minutes or more. With lifestyle changes people often find they can avoid the many risks, such as hearing loss.

Can Diabetes-Related Hearing Loss Be Prevented or Treated?

It’s important to understand that damage to the inner ear is almost always irreversible. The good news is that hearing loss is very treatable with the habitual use of hearing aids. These electronic devices amplify sound based on a hearing exam to amplify the sounds you need to hear, while leaving the rest to your existing hearing ability. As your hearing declines, your hearing aids can often be reprogramed to provide continued support.

Because of the severe nature of hearing loss, and its increased risk in patients with diabetes, it’s been recommended that you add regular hearing exams to your diabetes treatment regime. By keeping your blood sugar levels under control, it can likely lower your chances of hearing loss, among other risk factors. However, it’s wise to attend regular screenings to detect a loss, especially as the risk is much higher.

Schedule a Hearing Exam

If you have been diagnosed and you’re wondering what to do next, we are here to help. Schedule a hearing exam with us and we can help you find the best solution for all your hearing needs.