Do you or someone you know have diabetes? Did you know that there is a significant connection between diabetes and hearing loss?
Hearing loss happens for many reasons. In past articles, we’ve discussed, ways to protect your hearing, and important tips for treating your hearing loss. But this article is going to focus on the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, especially for those in their 60s, 70s, 80s and up!
With nearly 130 million people living with pre-diabetes or diabetes, you likely have a loved one who suffers from this condition. You also probably know that it affects many parts of the body, including the feet, hands, kidneys, and eyes.
But did you know that diabetes can also lead to nerve damage in your ears?
High blood sugar levels, over time, can damage the small blood vessels and nerves in your inner ear. Low blood sugar can damage how the nerve signals travel from your inner ear to the brain. Both of these types of damage can ultimately lead to hearing loss.
Unfortunately, while we know that millions of people suffer from hearing loss around the globe, we also know that hearing loss is twice as common in those who have diabetes. Even individuals who suffer from prediabetes are 30% more prone to hearing loss than those with normal blood sugar levels.
The first thing you’re going to want to do is watch for signs of hearing loss. They include:
Studies have shown that people with diabetes who have concerns about hearing loss should immediately talk to a hearing health care provider to have their hearing tested and addressed if necessary.
Changes in your ability to hear can alter your active lifestyle and social interaction with family and friends.
Ways to protect your ears if you have diabetes include:
Once you make an appointment for consultation, the audiologist will review your medical history with you and assess any symptoms. Your local hearing healthcare provider will then carry out the most comprehensive cognitive screening and diagnostic hearing exam. This process includes:
Both diabetes and hearing loss significantly increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Therefore, your hearing healthcare provider must provide you with a cognitive screening to help determine your risk of decline.
A combination of hearing tests will help your provider determine your stage of hearing loss, from 1 to 4. Like many medical disorders, hearing loss is progressive (i.e., it will get worse over time), and it is important to know where you are at in the progression of the disorder.
It’s not enough to just ‘raise your hand when you hear the beep’. To best treat your hearing loss, we must know exactly how your brain responds to words, how much effort is needed to hear others, how the brain deciphers speech from noise, and so much more.
This is a test where your hearing healthcare provider will insert a small probe into your ear to see how your eardrum is moving, determine whether or not it has a tear, and whether or not there is fluid buildup. This test can assist the doctor in ruling out certain other causes of hearing loss.
This test shows how well your inner ear is responding to sound. A small probe will measure vibrations from the hair cells in response to sound.
If needed, this test allows the provider to determine how the pathways between the inner ear and the brain are working. Electrodes will be placed on your head and attached to a computer so the hearing specialist can see brain wave activity.
Sensorineural hearing loss is the type which is usually associated with diabetes patients. It occurs due to nerve damage between the inner ear and the brain. Treatment typically includes one of the following:
Following the prevention steps above and scheduling an appointment with a hearing specialist is a huge step towards protecting your hearing if you have diabetes. Whether you are 60, 70, 80, or even a young 90, hearing is extremely important toward living your best life while aging.
If you are experiencing hearing loss, there is help available. Don’t put it off until it is too late. I hear too many times, “Doc, I wish I had come in sooner.” Put the pleasure back in hearing again.
Until next time, cheers to hearing!
Do you or a loved one have diabetes? Have you spoken to your doctor about having your hearing tested? Have you considered the impact that blood-sugar can have on your brain, your risk of hearing loss and risk of dementia?
Tags Medical Conditions