February 26, 2024

Check Your Hearing This November for American Diabetes Month

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Hearing loss is a widespread health problem that affects millions of people daily. It can impact individuals of all ages and backgrounds, with approximately 30 million children and adults in the United States experiencing it. Various factors, including genetics and exposure to loud sounds, can contribute to hearing loss. Additionally, existing medical conditions, such as heart disease, hypertension, dementia, and diabetes, have been linked to hearing loss. Notably, hearing loss is twice as common in individuals with diabetes, according to growing research and data. As we mark American Diabetes Month, let's delve into the links between these two conditions.

The Basics of Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition characterized by impaired insulin production and utilization in the body. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, facilitates the absorption of glucose from food into cells for energy. When insulin production is insufficient or cells become resistant to insulin, excess glucose accumulates in the bloodstream. This can damage small blood vessels throughout the body, including those in the heart, eyes, and ears, affecting hearing function.

Recent Studies

The link between hearing loss and diabetes has been subject to extensive research. Multiple studies have consistently demonstrated a connection between the two conditions. For example, a 2019 study involving 139,909 women found that type 2 diabetes increased the risk of moderate to severe hearing loss. Another study conducted by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders revealed that adults with diabetes were twice as likely to experience hearing loss compared to those without diabetes.

Diabetes' Effect on Hearing

Despite the established association between diabetes and hearing loss, the exact mechanisms remain unclear. Researchers speculate that high blood glucose levels associated with diabetes may damage the nerves and blood vessels in the inner ear. These structures, including neurons, hair cells, and blood vessels, are crucial for sound processing and transmission to the brain. Damage to these components can lead to irreversible hearing loss over time.

Time to Take Charge of Your Hearing

If you have diabetes, it is essential to prioritize regular hearing check-ups. Hearing tests can help assess the severity of any hearing loss and guide appropriate treatment options. Hearing aids are a common and effective treatment for hearing loss, helping individuals absorb, enhance, and process sound. Early detection and intervention can significantly improve hearing health outcomes. Schedule an appointment with us today to learn more about how to optimize your hearing abilities.

Dr. Teague earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Hearing, Speech and Language from Ohio University and his Doctoral Degree in Audiology from The University of Louisville. He is an active member of the American Academy of Audiology and the Ohio Board of Audiology.

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