Hearing loss prevention

This November, Test Your Hearing in Honor of American Diabetes Month

In Hearing Health, hearing loss by flywheel

Each November, we set aside time to celebrate American Diabetes Month. This celebration is a great opportunity to remember the efforts of those who research diabetes, provide care to diabetes patients, and those who are triumphantly living with the disease. As we honor this month, we can also shift our attention to devote more resources to these causes, including research, care, and quality of life concerns for those who have diabetes. What can you do this month to celebrate? Of course, you can donate money to an organization in need of support for diabetes-related causes. You can express gratitude for a diabetes caregiver in your life. You can also take a moment to check in with your loved one who has diabetes. In addition to these practical steps, there is one simple step you can take to contribute to the celebration of American Diabetes Month: getting a hearing test. What does a hearing test have to do with diabetes? It turns out that there is a strong connection between diabetes and hearing loss, and many experts even think of a diagnosis of hearing loss as a possible warning sign of diabetes or pre-diabetes. Let’s look more closely at the connection, as well as the many benefits of getting a hearing test.

Hearing Loss and Diabetes

What, exactly, is the connection between diabetes and hearing loss? Experts who perform data analysis have noticed that those who have diabetes and pre-diabetes have much higher rates of hearing loss at the level of the population. In fact, among those who have diabetes, hearing loss is twice as common as in the population of people without hearing loss. The rates are similarly strong among those who have pre-diabetes. Those people have 30 percent higher rates of hearing loss than those who have normal blood glucose levels. With this basic fact in mind, experts are keen to understand more about the connection. Is it as if diabetes is causing hearing loss? Could it be the opposite relationship, that hearing loss is causing diabetes? From what we know, the relationship is not quite so simple. There is an underlying principle of blood glucose levels that seems to reduce the capacity of the bloodstream to deliver oxygenated blood to the ears. When that capacity is diminished, the tiny, hairlike organelles of the inner ear, called stereocilia, can become bent, broken, or otherwise damaged. Once damaged in this way, they do not regenerate, and permanent hearing loss can result. Although diabetes is not directly causing hearing loss, its effect on the oxygen delivery system of the bloodstream can have an effect on hearing ability.

Getting a Hearing Test

With this information in mind, how can getting a hearing test contribute to a celebration of American Diabetes Month? For some people with a predisposition to diabetes, a diagnosis of hearing loss can serve as a warning sign of potentially high blood glucose levels. Although hearing loss does not always signal diabetes, it is one of many factors that can tip off your primary care physician to potential problem in the bloodstream. The stereocilia are highly sensitive to fluctuations in oxygen levels, so your physician will likely want to explore if a lack of oxygen is responsible for the hearing loss. Diabetes is not alone as a possible cause of this problem, and other health conditions such as cardiovascular disease can be signaled, as well. When you get your hearing test, you can discover if other health problems are likely, making it possible to seek treatment as soon as possible. This November, why not take a proactive step to celebrate American Diabetes Month? If you get a diagnosis of hearing loss, you can begin to explore the possibility of diabetes and to seek treatment right away. The sooner you get treatment for hearing loss and for issues with blood glucose, the better prepared you will be to receive the benefits of care. If you already know that you have pre-diabetes of diabetes, you can also benefit from a hearing test. Your likelihood of hearing loss is higher than those who do not have elevated blood glucose levels, so don’t delay getting your test.