Check Your Hearing This November for American Diabetes Month

Check Your Hearing This November for American Diabetes Month

In Hearing Health, Hearing Loss by Dr. Jason Leyendecker

Dr. Jason Leyendecker
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November is American Diabetes Month and we’re giving you added incentive to read up on this leading health concern within the United States and let you know why it’s the perfect time to schedule your hearing consultation.

Led by the American Diabetes Association, the month of November is dedicated to providing more education and awareness around diabetes, a disease that impacts more than 120 people in this country. More than 30 million Americans, slightly more than one in ten, have been diagnosed with diabetes and 88 million people are considered pre-diabetic, which means they show warning signs for developing diabetes. 

When we consider that around one in eight people over 12 years old in the United States has hearing loss in both ears, plus recent research uncovering the strong link between diabetes and hearing loss, we have to conclude that many people are facing both of these major health issues. 

Studies reveal the link between hearing loss and diabetes

Recently, researchers uncovered exactly how strong this link between hearing loss and diabetes is. They found that hearing loss is twice as likely in people with diabetes than it is in other people. What’s more, in people with prediabetes, the rates of hearing loss are 30 percent more prevalent than in people who have healthy blood sugar levels.

What is diabetes?

People with diabetes have a fundamental issue in transforming the food they eat into energy. It’s a process that occurs quite simply in people without this diagnosis. Our bodies digest food, turning it into glucose (sugars) released into the bloodstream to be used as fuel. When the blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas releases insulin which in turn helps provide the ‘key’ to allow glucose energy into our cells.

When someone has diabetes, that process does not happen smoothly. For people with Type I diabetes, their body does not produce enough insulin and they must supplement by injecting insulin. People with Type II diabetes have developed insulin resistance, which is typically treated through medication and lifestyle changes, like diet and more exercise. 

Diabetes leads to other health complications, like cardiovascular disease and nerve damage. 

How could diabetes impact hearing?

Because of these insulin issues, people with diabetes have trouble maintaining steady blood sugar levels. Often, blood sugar levels will spike or drop dramatically. This creates a toxic environment for cells. 

The cells of the inner ear are profoundly necessary to our sense hearing. They are fine, delicate structures that receive sound information from the external world. Then, they relay that sound information to the brain’s processing centers. This happens lightning-fast and while we’re largely unaware of the process occurring, it’s what we perceive as hearing. These important cells are also non-regenerative, which means that they do not repair themselves or produce a new crop when they become damaged. When they decay, due to age, noise, or a toxic environment, we lose our ability to hear all the sounds of our external environments. We perceive this as hearing loss

Signs of early hearing loss

Hearing loss can be extremely subtle in its onset. At first, we tend to lose our ability to hear higher frequency sounds. This is why we lose speech understanding so that conversations become difficult and it sounds like everyone around you is mumbling. 

Other signs of early hearing loss

  • Having to say ‘what?!’ repeatedly in conversation
  • Having particular trouble talking to people in noisy environments
  • Noticing that your television or device volumes are turned all the way up — and it’s not helping

Hearing loss is a gradual condition that can develop over many years. As a result, we tend to adapt and “get used” to the way things sound – even if we are not hearing at our best! 

Schedule a hearing consultation

Are you concerned about your hearing? Schedule a hearing consultation with our highly trained team today. We’ll guide you through the simple process of a hearing exam and help you find your way towards your healthiest hearing possible!