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A Link between Hearing Loss and Diabetes

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Diabetes is a condition that affects a staggering number of people in the United States. If the prevalence of pre-diabetes is taken into account, the illness affects at least 88 million Americans with high blood glucose levels. With so many people suffering from diabetes and pre-diabetes, you're bound to know someone, have someone in your family, or maybe have diabetes. The first step is to seek medical help, and today's breakthrough diabetic treatments decrease symptoms and improve the quality of life for those who suffer from the disease.

You might be wondering how hearing is linked to diabetes. Experts are still debating the issue, but the numbers show a strong link. Diabetes patients are twice as likely as non-diabetic patients to develop hearing loss. Hearing loss is 30 percent more common in people who have pre-diabetes. 

How are the conditions related in light of these facts? What can you do to keep your hearing from deteriorating? What if you've already been diagnosed with hearing loss? Is there a way to get help? Let's take the time to evaluate these concerns in the context of maintaining your hearing health and overall well-being.

Diabetes and Hearing Loss

What is the relationship between hearing loss and diabetes? Although more research is needed in this area, doctors have a few theories linking the two illnesses.

The first hypothesis considers how elevated blood glucose levels affect the cardiovascular system. This excess of glucose in the blood can damage the small blood vessels in the ears, causing a chain reaction that leads to hearing loss.

Another notion revolves around the blood's composition traveling to the inner ear. When the blood has a high glucose content, it may not have enough oxygen or other nutrients for the inner ear to function correctly. Stereocilia, the cochlea's tiny hairlike organelles, are extremely sensitive to slight variations in sound frequencies, amplitudes, and timbres. This sensitivity allows you to distinguish between syllables in speech, distinct voices' tones, and even subtle dialects of the language. On the other hand, the stereocilia's sensitivity makes them vulnerable to harm. These organelles can be irreparably destroyed if they are deprived of their required materials. When one of these hair cell clusters is injured, that sound frequency is no longer audible at a specific loudness; hence diabetes may trigger a mechanism that causes hearing loss.

Preventing diabetes

 The best way to prevent diabetes is to maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly and avoid obesity.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with prediabetes lose 7 percent of their body weight, which can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. Losing even 5 percent of your body weight can help reduce your risk of developing diabetes.

Exercise is also important for those with prediabetes. The ADA recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking or water aerobics, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, such as jogging or power walking.

Balance your diet with fruits and vegetables, whole grains, protein and dairy products. Limit saturated fats, trans fat, added sugars and salt. A healthy diet helps keep blood sugar levels under control and reduces your risk for type 2 diabetes.

Treating hearing loss

What if you believe you've already suffered hearing loss due to diabetes or another factor? You can take steps to prevent, control, and treat hearing loss, which is good news. 

First and foremost, everyone can benefit from hearing protection, especially those exposed to noise at work or during leisure activities. When your ears are bombarded with a loud noise, they can suffer damage comparable to that seen in people with diabetes. The good news is that ear protection, even in simple disposable foam earplugs, can reduce sound levels by 10 to 15 decibels, allowing exposure to be extended. 

You can also undergo a diagnostic exam to see how severe your hearing loss is. This test will reveal the severity of your hearing loss and which sound frequency ranges are the most bothersome. You can engage with your hearing health specialist to explore your treatment choices now that you have these results. Hearing aids today come with various features and functions and minimum complexity, making it possible to pick a pair that fits your lifestyle and demands.

If you're concerned about your hearing abilities, now is the time to make an appointment for your hearing test. One of our hearing health professionals can walk you through obtaining therapy after you have your hearing profile.