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Check Your Hearing This November for American Diabetes Month

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Dr. Timothy Teague, AuD

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!