More people each year are diagnosed with diabetes. And if you are one of them and are now struggling to hear – you aren’t alone. Research is showing a strong link between diabetes and hearing loss, which is why a hearing evaluation should be on your diabetes treatment plan.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes occurs when your body cannot produce or manage the hormone insulin, which is produced by your pancreas. Insulin opens pathways into your cells, allowing glucose (sugar) to enter, where your cells use it as fuel. Without insulin, glucose builds up in your bloodstream instead of being absorbed and used as fuel in your cells.
- Type 1 – Also known as juvenile diabetes, is the most severe. Your body’s immune system attacks the pancreas’ islet cells, which senses glucose levels in the blood and produces the appropriate amount of insulin to balance blood sugars. Once these cells are destroyed, you are no longer able to produce insulin.
- Type 2 – This is the most common form of diabetes, where you can still produce some insulin, but it is not enough to balance blood sugar. Your cells become insulin resistant, where they no longer open pathways in response to insulin
- Gestational Diabetes – Similar to type 2 diabetes, except it occurs during pregnancy. Most often, blood sugar returns to normal shortly after delivery; however, women who experience gestational diabetes are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
The number of people diagnosed with diabetes is increasing, rising over 50 percent over the last decade. With diabetes being the leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, amputations, heart failure, stroke, along with a whole host of other complications, many need to understand the disease and how to manage it.
Can Diabetes Cause Hearing Loss
Recently, research has shown that those with diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing loss. Even more alarming, pre-diabetic individuals are 30% more likely to have hearing loss. It can’t be ignored – diabetes and hearing loss are linked. Here are some theories as to why:
How Diabetes is a Risk Factor for Hearing Loss?
- Chronic high blood sugar in your bloodstream damages nerves throughout your body, known as diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy typically occurs in your feet and legs; however, it is theorized that it can also damage the nerves in your ears.
- Another possibility is that high blood sugar damages the small blood vessels that feed the tiny inner ear organ. The inner ear is very sensitive to blood flow, which is why many heart conditions are a risk factor for hearing loss. If the inner ear is damaged, hearing will be permanently compromised as well.
What can diabetics do today to protect their hearing?
What is now understood is the better diabetics can control their blood sugar, the less likely it will negatively affect their hearing. Following medication and diet recommendations of your diabetic treatment plan plays a critical role in your overall health – as well as your hearing.
Although overall health is essential, it’s not the only factor when considering your well-being. As hearing loss progresses, there is an increased likelihood of social isolation and depression. When it’s hard to communicate and engage with others, you’re less likely to do so. People with diabetes who are isolated and depressed may struggle to manage their blood sugars and follow their treatment plan.
A negative self-feeding cycle can quickly begin, with the factors of hearing loss and diabetes aggravating each other. For diabetics, it’s vital to be aware of the symptoms of hearing loss, depression, and social isolation and take steps to mediate their effects.
Get a Hearing Test Today
It’s essential to include a hearing evaluation in your diabetic treatment plan, even if you don’t believe you have a hearing loss. A baseline measurement of your hearing will let you know where you are today and be monitored annually from here on out.
With diabetes, what was stable one day can quickly deteriorate the next. Regular monitoring of your hearing can ensure you can access treatment quickly if your hearing begins to change.
If you are in the Chicago area, contact Wholistic Hearing Care at (630) 474-5008 to schedule your hearing test. We can establish a baseline on-site or in the comfort of your home and advise you on a hearing loss treatment plan if needed.
We travel to you – serving Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, and Will counties in Illinois.