Check Your Hearing This November for American Diabetes Month

Check Your Hearing This November for American Diabetes Month

November is American Diabetes Month. This national campaign focuses on raising awareness of diabetes and ways you can protect your health. Over 34 million people have diabetes, a life-long medical condition that impacts how the body produces energy from food. Research shows that people with diabetes, and also people who are prediabetic, experience a higher risk of also developing hearing loss. 

 

Studies show that people with diabetes can be twice as likely to experience hearing loss, a chronic condition that nearly 48 million people live with. If you have diabetes, it is incredibly important to be proactive about your hearing health. This month is a great time to schedule an appointment for a hearing test! 

 

Impact of Diabetes on Hearing 

Research has established a link between diabetes and hearing loss. Studies reveal that diabetes can impact the auditory system – the sensory system that includes the ears and brain which work together to absorb, process, and understand sound. 

 

One major study that highlights this correlation was conducted by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. Published in 2008, the study involved researchers analyzing data from a survey that provided information from over 11,000 participants (ages 20-69). This data included results from hearing tests and responses from a questionnaire about diabetes. Researchers found that among people with diabetes:

 

  • 54% had high-frequency hearing loss compared to 32% of people without diabetes.
  • 21% had mid-frequency hearing loss compared to 9% of people without diabetes. 

 

These findings underscore a significant correlation between both chronic conditions. In exploring how this correlation is possible, experts point to the impact of diabetes on blood vessels. 

 

Diabetes is a condition that can damage blood vessels throughout the body and researchers suggest that this could include the blood vessels in the inner ear. The inner ear houses thousands of hair cells that help convert incoming soundwaves into electrical signals that are then sent to the brain to be further processed and assigned meaning to. If blood vessels are damaged, the inner ear could experience challenges performing this function, leading to hearing loss. 

 

Know the Signs of Hearing Loss 

Being able to identify the signs of hearing loss can help you address any changes to your hearing health early. Early intervention can drastically help transform your hearing and help protect your health. Hearing loss reduces the capacity to hear and process sound, producing various symptoms that strain communication. Common symptoms include the following: 

 

  • Tinnitus: often referred to as ringing of the ears, is a buzzing or ringing-like noise that is heard in one or both ears when no noise is actually present in your environment.
  • Sounds are slurred, distorted, or muffled. 
  • Turning up the volume on electronic devices like the TV, phone, speaker, etc. 
  • Asking others to repeat themselves, speak louder, or slower. 
  • Difficulty identifying individual words and following a conversation. 
  • Missing words that someone said, experiencing miscommunication, or not hearing something correctly. 
  • Struggling to hear in environments with background noise or during conversations with multiple people. 
  • Lip reading to help with distinguishing words. 

 

Depending on the degree of hearing loss (mild to profound), these symptoms can be experienced consistently. This prevents people from participating fully in conversations which can produce stress, social withdrawal, and take a toll on relationships. If you recognize any of these signs, it is critical to have your hearing assessed and treated. 

 

Tips to Protect Hearing Health

There are numerous ways you can protect your hearing health. Practicing safety measures can reduce your risk of developing hearing loss. Tips include: 

 

  • Have a hearing test. One of the best ways to take care of your hearing health is to have your hearing assessed regularly. Hearing tests measure hearing capacity in both ears using a painless process. This identifies any hearing loss and allows a hearing healthcare specialist to recommend effective treatment options to meet hearing needs.  
  • Reduce exposure to loud noise. A common cause of hearing loss is one-time or consistent exposure to loud noise. Loud noise can damage the hair cells in the inner ear which are critical for processing sound. A useful way to protect your hearing is to reduce your exposure to loud noise. You can do this in several ways including maintaining lower volume settings on electronic devices, avoiding environments that are noisier, and wearing hearing protection. 
  • Wear hearing protection. Protective wear for your ears includes headphones, earmuffs, earbuds, etc. which reduce the amount and impact of loud noise you absorb. 

 

American Diabetes Month is a great reminder to prioritize your health. Get started today by calling us to schedule an appointment for a hearing test!

Check Your Hearing This November for American Diabetes Month

Check Your Hearing This November for American Diabetes Month

Hearing loss is a widespread health problem that affects millions of people daily. Hearing loss can affect people of all ages and backgrounds, affecting roughly 30 million children and adults in the United States.

 

Hearing loss can be caused by various factors, including genetics and exposure to high sounds in the environment. Existing medical issues are another factor that can contribute to the development of hearing loss. Hearing loss has been linked to several chronic illnesses, including heart disease, hypertension, dementia, and diabetes.

 

Hearing loss is twice as common in those with diabetes, according to growing research and data. Let’s take a closer look at the links between the two conditions as we mark American Diabetes Month.

 

The Basics of Diabetes

 

Diabetes is a condition in which your body’s capacity to generate and use insulin is impaired. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, and insulin is released when your body converts food into energy to help deliver that energy to your cells. Essentially, insulin acts as a “key” in the body, telling cells to open and receive the glucose through a chemical signal. Too much sugar remains in your blood if you generate little or no insulin or if you are insulin resistant, and this is where the problem begins.

 

The impact of diabetes on small blood arteries throughout the body is one of the most damaging consequences. A healthy blood flow is essential for each cell, tissue, muscle, neuron, and organ in our bodies to function effectively. The most vital ingredients for life are oxygen and glucose, carried via blood to all of our organs. Diabetes symptoms are caused by an excess of glucose in the blood.

 

The effects of high blood glucose levels can damage blood vessels, leading to organ damage such as the heart, eyes, and hearing. Blood vessels are damaged and destroyed when blood glucose levels are high for long periods.

 

The exact mechanism of the harm is unknown, but its influence on people is well understood and very real.

 

Recent Studies

For a long time, the link between hearing loss and diabetes has been debated and explored. Multiple studies have looked at this link, all of which have come to the same conclusion: hearing loss and diabetes are linked. 

 

Consider the following two examples:

 

In a 2019 study, researchers gathered data from 139,909 women who completed questionnaires with and without type 2 diabetes. Participants were surveyed twice between 2009 and 2013 and reported moderate or severe hearing loss, and type 2 diabetes was found to increase the risk of moderate or severe hearing loss in women.

 

In another study published by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, researchers reviewed data from hearing exams conducted by the CDC from 1999 to 2004. Adults between the ages of 20 and 69 took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The hearing test assessed people’s ability to hear low, middle, and high-frequency noises in both ears. According to the study, adults with diabetes were twice as likely to experience hearing loss as adults without diabetes.

 

Diabetes’ Effect on Hearing

 

Even though extensive research shows a close link between these two health issues, it is still unclear how diabetes affects hearing.

 

According to researchers, the nerves and blood arteries in the inner ear may be damaged by high blood glucose levels associated with diabetes. The inner ear’s neurons, hair cells, and blood vessels play a crucial role in how humans process sound. They aid in converting soundwaves into electrical signals, which are ultimately transmitted to the brain via nerve networks. The brain is then able to interpret and analyze the sound we hear. Because the hair cells in the inner ear do not renew, any injury is irreversible and leads to hearing loss.

 

Time to take charge of your hearing

 

It is critical to have your hearing checked if you have diabetes. Hearing tests are a simple and painless way to identify the severity of your hearing loss and the hearing loss you have. Hearing loss can be treated in a variety of methods, which is fortunate. Hearing aids, which are small electronic devices that help absorb, enhance, and process sound to improve one’s ability to hear, are the most prevalent treatment. Detecting any degree of hearing loss as soon as possible and seeking treatment will dramatically benefit your hearing health. Make an appointment with us today to learn more about how to hear at your best!

Check Your Hearing This November for American Diabetes Month

Check Your Hearing This November for American Diabetes Month

A recent study shows that people with diabetes can be twice as likely to develop hearing loss. This month is a great reminder to prioritize your hearing health by scheduling an appointment to have your hearing checked! 

 

Understanding Hearing Loss 

Hearing loss is the third most common chronic condition that people experience today. Impacting over 48 million people, nearly 1 in 8 people have some degree of hearing loss. Impaired hearing reduces one’s capacity to detect and process sound which results in a range of symptoms that strains communication. This includes: 

 

  • Tinnitus: a buzzing, ringing, or clicking like noise heard in one or both ears
  • Sounds are muffled or blend together 
  • Needing to increase the volume on the television or other electronic devices 
  • Asking others to repeat something they’ve said, speak louder, and/or slower
  • Difficulty hearing in places with background noise, during conversations with more than one person 
  • Frequently missing words people say, experiencing miscommunication, needing 

to lip read to identify individual words 

 

These symptoms take a toll on communication which has multifaceted effects on various aspects of life. Untreated hearing loss can strain relationships, cause people to withdraw socially, and increase specific health risks like cognitive decline. Hearing loss is a permanent condition so practicing ways to protect hearing health is a useful way to be as preventative as possible. 

 

Link Between Diabetes & Hearing Loss 

Research reveals a link between diabetes and hearing loss. Studies show that diabetes can significantly increase the risk of developing hearing loss. This includes a recent study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, conducted by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. Researchers analyzed data from a national health survey that included results from hearing tests and a diabetes questionnaire for over 11,000 participants, ages 20-69. Findings highlighted that participants with diabetes were significantly more likely to also experience hearing loss, compared to participants without diabetes. Specifically, among people with hearing loss, 

  • 54% had high-frequency hearing loss compared to 32% of people without diabetes.
  • 21% had mid-frequency hearing loss compared to 9% of people without diabetes. 

 

These findings show that people with diabetes can be more than twice as likely to develop mid-frequency hearing loss. Diabetes is known to damage blood vessels throughout the body. Experts suggest that this can include the blood vessels in the inner ear which can potentially explain the correlation between both conditions. The inner ear is critical to the processing of sound – hair cells in the inner ear help convert incoming soundwaves into electrical signals that then go to the brain to be further processed. Damaged blood vessels can restrict this capacity, causing hearing loss. This underscores the importance for people with diabetes (and people who are also prone to diabetes) to prioritize hearing health. 

 

Ways to Protect Your Hearing Health

There are several ways you can protect your hearing health, reducing your risk of developing hearing loss. A few tips you can start immediately practicing includes: 

  • Schedule a hearing test. Establishing a baseline of your hearing capacity and needs is the first step. This involves having your hearing assessed by a hearing healthcare specialist, like an audiologist, who is trained to diagnose and treat hearing-related conditions. Hearing exams involve a painless process that uses speech and sound tests to identify what your hearing capacity is in both ears. This identifies any impairment and the degree of hearing loss you could be experiencing. Once your hearing needs are established, your hearing healthcare provider can make recommendations for treatment options that can maximize your hearing capacity. 
  • Reduce your exposure to loud noise. One of the most common causes of hearing loss is exposure to loud noise. Loud noise can damage the hair cells in the inner ear, reducing their capacity to process incoming soundwaves. Reducing your exposure is a useful way to mitigate this risk. There are several ways you can do this including lowering the volume on electronic devices which can reach hazardous levels, avoiding places with background noise, using noise cancellation headphones that reduce background noise, spacing out social events that take place in louder settings, etc. 
  • Wear hearing protection. Another useful way to reduce your exposure to loud noise is by wearing hearing protection. This can include headphones or earplugs which reduce the amount of loud noise you absorb. 

 

This month is a great reminder to take action around your health. You can commit to this by calling us to schedule an appointment for a hearing test!