Check Your Hearing This November for American Diabetes Month 

This month marks American Diabetes Month – a campaign to raise awareness about diabetes, a condition that affects over 34 million people in the U.S. A recent study shows that people with diabetes can be twice as likely to also develop hearing loss. Prioritize your health this month by having your hearing checked!

Impact of Diabetes on Hearing Health

Recent studies have shown that hearing loss is twice as likely among people with diabetes compared to people without it. This includes a major study conducted by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. Published in 2008, this study included a nationally representative sample of adults, ages 20-69. Researchers analyzed data that captured results from hearing tests and information provided from a diabetes questionnaire for over 11,000 people. They found that hearing loss was increasingly more prevalent among people with diabetes: 

  • 54% of people with diabetes had high-frequency hearing loss compared to 32% of people without diabetes.
  • 21% of people with diabetes had mid-frequency hearing loss compared to 9% of people without the condition. 

Experts suggest that this significant correlation can be caused by the impact diabetes has on blood vessels. Diabetes can damage blood vessels throughout the body, including the inner ear which is integral to how we process sound. 

Signs of Hearing Loss 

Hearing loss typically occurs gradually and because it is also an invisible condition, people may not notice changes to their hearing health for a long period of time. This delay in treatment can not only worsen hearing loss but also increase health risks like cognitive decline, accidental injuries, and depression. Being able to recognize the signs of hearing loss can help you take action early. Early intervention can significantly help with transforming hearing health and wellness. Common hearing loss symptoms include: 

  • Tinnitus: often referred to as “ringing of the ears”, tinnitus is one of the most common symptoms of hearing loss. It is a buzzing, ringing, clicking, or hissing like noise heard in one or both ears. 
  • Sounds are slurred or muffled 
  • Needing to increase the volume on electronic devices 
  • Asking others to repeat something they’ve said or speak louder 
  • Difficulty hearing in settings with background noise, in conversations with multiple people, and while multitasking. 
  • Lip reading to help identify individual words 
  • Feeling fatigued and/or frustrated after conversations 
  • Frequently experiencing miscommunication or missing words during a conversation 

These symptoms can be experienced mildly to profoundly, depending on the degree of hearing loss. Untreated hearing loss often leads to strained communication and social withdrawal which can deeply affect relationships as well as mental health. It is important to practice preventative measures so that you can reduce your risk of experiencing hearing loss. 

Tips to Protect Hearing 

Fortunately, there are useful ways to reduce your risk of developing hearing loss. You can protect your hearing health by incorporating the following simple safety measures in your daily life: 

  • Get hearing checked. A hearing test is the first step in assessing hearing needs and treating hearing loss. Hearing tests involve a noninvasive and painless process that includes listening and responding to speech and sound. This measures your hearing capacity in both ears, identifying any impairment and the degree of hearing loss that could be present. After your hearing needs are established, a hearing healthcare provider can recommend treatment options that meet those needs, maximizing your hearing ability. 
  • Practice healthy habits. If you have diabetes, it is important to practice healthy habits that effectively manage your diabetes. This includes following your medication plan, monitoring blood sugar levels and keeping them as close to target levels as possible, exercising regularly which helps with blood circulation, etc. 
  • Wear hearing protection. A common cause of hearing loss is exposure to loud noise. One-time or consistent absorption of loud noise can damage the hair cells in the inner heart, causing hearing loss. Hearing protection – headphones, earmuffs, earplugs, etc. – creates a barrier for the ears which reduces the impact of loud noise. 
  • Reduce exposure to loud noise. In addition to wearing protective gear, you can reduce your exposure to loud noise in several ways: maintain lower volume settings on electronic devices (television, phone, speaker, etc. ), avoid environments with background noise, invest in noise-canceling headphones, and take listening breaks throughout the day. 

This month is a great time to prioritize your hearing health. Call us today to schedule your appointment for a hearing test!