Participate in American Diabetes Month by scheduling an appointment for a hearing test. Over 34 million people in the U.S. have diabetes. This life-long condition can increase health risks including contributing to the development of hearing loss. People with diabetes can be twice as likely to also experience hearing loss compared to people without it.
Link Between Diabetes & Hearing Loss
Research identifies diabetes as a risk factor for hearing loss. Studies show that diabetes can significantly increase the risk of hearing loss development. One major study that highlights this was conducted by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. Published in 2008, this study involved over 11,000 participants, ages 20-69. Researchers analyzed data provided from a national health survey that included information from hearing tests as well as a diabetes questionnaire. Key findings from the study included 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.
This research reveals a significant correlation between diabetes and hearing loss. In explaining this link, experts suggest that it could have to do with how diabetes impacts blood vessels. Diabetes is known to damage blood vessels throughout the body and researchers suggest that this can include the small blood vessels that are in the inner ear. The inner ear is integral to how we process and understand sound.
This is where incoming sound is converted into electrical signals that are carried to the brain to be further processed and assigned meaning to. Damaged blood vessels can prevent the inner ear from carrying out these essential functions contributing to hearing loss.
Check Your Hearing This Month
The first step you can take to prioritize your hearing health is to have your hearing assessed. Hearing tests involve a painless process that thoroughly measures hearing capacity in both ears. Facilitated by a hearing healthcare specialist, likely an audiologist, hearing tests use both sounds and speech tests to identify hearing abilities. This establishes any hearing loss you could be experiencing, the specific type of hearing loss, and the degree of impairment. Your hearing healthcare provider is then able to recommend treatment options that effectively meet your hearing needs.
The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. These are electronic devices that are designed to absorb, amplify, and process sound. This support significantly helps the auditory system, allowing people to hear and communicate with greater ease. Hearing aids offer countless benefits including maximizing hearing, improving relationships, enriching social life, boosting wellness, and improving health outcomes. Hearing health is a key component of overall health so integrating regular hearing tests into annual health routines is a useful way to be proactive.
Tips to Protect Hearing Health
In addition to having your hearing checked, there are numerous ways you can protect your hearing health and reduce your risk of developing hearing loss. This includes the following:
- Wear protective gear. One major cause of hearing loss is loud noise which can damage hair cells in the inner ear. Wearing protective gear creates a barrier that reduces the amount of noise that is absorbed. There are various types of protective gear including headphones, earplugs, and earmuffs which are easily portable!
- Reduce exposure to loud noise. In addition to wearing protective gear, there are several ways you can reduce your exposure to loud noise. A few ways are to avoid noisier settings, avoiding places (restaurants, bars, etc.) during peak hours, driving with the windows rolled up to reduce environmental noise, taking alternative routes to stay away from traffic or construction sites, etc.
- Take listening breaks. Another simple, useful tip is to implement a few 5-10 minute listening breaks throughout the day. Our ears and brain are consistently taking in and processing sound which can be tiring. By powering off sources of noise and being in a quieter environment, the auditory system can rest and replenish.
Integrating these safety measures is a great way to reduce your risk of hearing loss. This is especially important if you have diabetes. We encourage you to participate in American Diabetes Month by calling us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing test!