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Don’t Let Diabetes Leave You Out of the Conversation – Get Your Hearing Checked
Posted by William A. Kent, BC-HIS on January 20, 2017
Hearing loss is about twice as common in people with diabetes, so urging those with diabetes to get their hearing checked and to make it a routine part of their diabetes care and management is extremely important.
What’s the diabetes-hearing health connection? Hearing depends on small blood vessels and nerves in the inner ear. Studies have shown that people with diabetes have a higher rate of hearing loss than people without diabetes. Although the relationship between diabetes and hearing loss is still being investigated, researchers theorize that, over time, high blood glucose levels can damage the blood vessels and nerves of the inner ear, diminishing the ability to hear.
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers found that people with diabetes were 2.15 times as likely as those without the disease to have hearing loss. Surprisingly, when broken down by age, the younger group was at greater risk. The results showed that those 60 and younger with diabetes were 2.61 times more likely to have hearing loss, while the risk for those older than 60 was 1.58 times higher. The meta-analysis looked at 13 previous studies that examined the link between diabetes and hearing loss.
According to Professor Hirohito Sone, Department of Internal Medicine, Niigata University School of Medicine, Niigata Japan: “Our findings support routine hearing screenings for people with diabetes starting at an earlier age than for people without the disease. From a preventative healthcare perspective, this is very important because we know that when left untreated, hearing loss can exacerbate and perhaps even lead to other health problems, such as depression and dementia, making the diabetes burden even greater.” Likewise, research also suggests that by keeping diabetes under control, people can help minimize potential diabetes-related hearing damage. Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit found that women between the ages of 60 and 75 with well-controlled diabetes had better hearing than women whose diabetes was poorly controlled.
“A certain degree of hearing loss is common with aging, but it is often accelerated in patients with diabetes, especially if blood glucose levels are not being controlled,” said senior study author Kathleen L. Yaremchuk, M.D., Chair of the Department of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. “Our study really points to the importance of patients controlling their diabetes and paying attention to their hearing health.”
Unlike eye exams, hearing health examinations are often overlooked in the routine regimen of care for people with diabetes, despite the fact that the vast majority of people with hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids. In fact, almost all of the 400 people who underwent hearing tests at the American Diabetes Association’s EXPO in Portland, Oregon in 2012 said they had never received a physician’s recommendation for a hearing test. Yet more than half of these 400 individuals were found to have hearing loss and nearly all of them said they did not know that hearing loss is associated with diabetes.
In conclusion, monitor diabetes closely and follow your doctor’s recommendation for your best results in not only diagnosing early, but treatment of it. Part of the process should include annual hearing screenings. If your physician does not recommend it, simply request one or contact your hearing healthcare provider directly. Most health insurances cover annual hearing tests making them part of your yearly physical routine.
Call us today to make an appointment for your annual routine hearing exam.