Do you struggle to hear the people in your life? Do you have to ask people to repeat themselves more often than not or find that to hear the TV you have to turn it up to a level in which others complain? These are some of the most common signs of hearing loss, a condition which effects 48 million people in the United States. Aside from being an issue which makes it hard to communicate and be aware of the sounds in your environment, hearing loss is often a warning sign for other co-morbidities. Comorbidities is when two chronic health condition exist at once. This November is American Diabetes Month, an annual month-long campaign which encourages regular screenings and management of diabetes. This November we recognize that people with diabetes are twice as likely to struggle with hearing loss as well. In addition, of the 88 million people classified as prediabetic, they are 30 percent more likely to have hearing loss as well. This is why we emphasis the importance of scheduling and attending an annual hearing exam this November.
Understanding the Impact of Diabetes
Diabetes is believed to affect at least 37 million people in the United States, one in five who are not even aware they have it. Even more alarming are the 88 million people with prediabetes—80 percent who are not aware that they are at risk of developing diabetes. What can start with chronic exhaustion, the need to frequently urinate, thirst, and blurry vison, if unaddressed and under managed, can progress into a wide array of health concerns. This includes a heightened risk of heart attack, stroke, vison issues, kidney failure, and even amputation of limbs due to nerve damage. As hearing health care specialists, we are particularly concerned with the heightened risk that this prevalent disease has on our hearing.
Hearing Loss and Diabetes
To understand how diabetes affects hearing it’s important to understand how diabetes effects the entire body. Diabetes occurs when your body struggles to absorb blood sugar, also known as glucose, into the cells throughout the body. This occurs when the body can’t produce enough of the essential hormone, insulin, which regulates this absorption. The cells absorb blood sugar derived from the foods we eat, to supply energy for the cells to function, and when they can’t absorb, their integrity is at risk. In addition, heightened blood sugar in the blood stream can equally damage cells.
This includes the cells of the inner ear. While sound is collected in the ears, sound must reach the brain in order to complete the process. This is achieved via tiny fragile cells, called stereocilia, which convert audio waves into electrical impulses. When blood sugar levels spike and dive it can cause damage to the stereocilia, potentially causing lasting damage to the auditory system.
The Impact of Hearing Loss
Hearing Loss is often underestimated and unaddressed. What starts as a communication issue can progress into rifts in your relationships at home and in professional settings. This can impact self-esteem, sense of self, and cause chronic depression. With depression comes less activity, a heightened risk of falls and accidents leading to hospitalization and even cognitive decline, increasing the risk of dementia, significantly. It’s found that in general, hearing loss impacts mobility and a person’s likeliness to try new things. For this reason, we urge you to take advantage of this November’s American Diabetes Month, with a hearing exam. In conjunction with regular screenings for diabetes, you can stay on top of your hearing health.
Test Your Hearing This November
While hearing loss in most often irreversible, it can be treated effectively using hearing aids. These tiny electronic devices can be programed based on a hearing exam to amplify only the sounds and pitches you struggle to hear. This can allow you to stay connected to the people in your life, encourage greater independence, lower the risk of cognitive decline, and improve the general quality of your life! If you have diabetes, include regular hearing exams as part of your diabetes management. Get in control of your health today and contact us today to schedule your next hearing exam!