Having healthy hearing isn’t just about staying away from loud noises, or always wearing hearing protection. While treating hearing loss early, as well as protecting your ears from dangerous noise levels, is incredibly important, having a healthy lifestyle also affects your hearing health. Eating healthy, for example, improves your overall health and wellness, and can also affect your hearing. Regular exercise helps circulate your blood and keep your ears healthy, and many studies show that smoking not only increases your risk of cancer, but leads to poor hearing health. But did you know that suffering from diabetes could also increase your risk for hearing loss?
Linking Diabetes and Hearing Loss
A 2008 study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and conducted by the National Institute of Health, looked at the links between diabetes and hearing loss. They collected data from over 5,000 adults aged 20-69, both diabetics and non-diabetics, and the results are astonishing. They found that 21% of adults with diabetes had hearing loss, more than twice as many as the 9% of adults without diabetes who struggled to hear.
Even pre-diabetics were twice as likely to have hearing loss! They mostly suffered from hearing loss in high-frequency ranges, and struggled to hear high-pitched sounds. Even after controlling for variable factors like age, noise exposure, and medications, the link between diabetes and hearing loss stayed consistent. This means that having diabetes is clearly a risk factor for developing hearing loss.
The results of this study were duplicated in 2011 by researchers at the Tsukuba University Hospital Mito Medical Center in Ibaraki, Japan. Studying data collected from over 32,000 people, they also found that those with diabetes were 2.3 times more likely to suffer from hearing loss than those without diabetes.
How Does Diabetes Lead to Hearing Loss?
We still don’t know why diabetes leads to a greater risk of hearing loss. What we do know is that diabetes does a lot of damage to the body, as well as to the ears. The prolonged high blood sugar levels among diabetics leads to damage of the blood vessels throughout the body. With this damage, it’s harder for blood to circulate easily, and this could be depriving your ears of the oxygen they need to stay healthy. With reduced blood flow, cells are damaged, or even die, leading to hearing loss.
Reducing Your Risk of Diabetes
Looking after your health is important, and with a few simple changes to your lifestyle, you could prevent diabetes in your family. Taking some small steps now could make all the difference between a healthy future or a lifetime struggle with diabetes, and an increased risk of hearing loss.
Maintaining a balanced, healthy diet is one of the best ways to avoid diabetes. Eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will ensure that your diet is full of the nutrients that will keep you healthy. Avoid excessive amounts of sugar, and cut down on sweet drinks like coca cola. Exercising regularly is another easy thing you can do that will have a big effect on your health and wellness, improving your blood circulation, lowering blood sugar levels, regulating weight, increasing energy levels, and lowering your risk of diabetes. Finally, it’s important to visit your doctor regularly to monitor your health and catch the early warning signs of diabetes.
Treating Hearing Loss
Diabetes is quickly becoming a national problem, with nearly 30 million Americans living with diabetes! If you’re diabetic, it’s recommended that you get routine hearing tests, regardless of your age. Since diabetics are twice as likely to have hearing loss, monitoring your hearing health is a must.
Hearing loss is often a gradual process, allowing you to adjust the way you hear without you even realizing it. Make sure you know the signs of hearing loss, so you can seek treatment as soon as you notice you’re having trouble hearing. Common signs of hearing loss include difficulty following conversations, trouble hearing over the phone, accusing people of talking too softly, and always turning up the volume on the TV or radio.
If you believe you have hearing loss, visit us today at Fidelity Hearing Centers for a hearing assessment, and to learn more about your treatment options.