More than 30 million Americans have diabetes, a disease that inhibits the body’s ability to produce and manage insulin appropriately, causing glucose to build up in the bloodstream instead of feeding hungry cells.
If you have diabetes, you should be aware of how it can impact your hearing as research has indicated that diabetics have a higher probability of developing hearing loss than those without the disease.
Multiple studies in recent years have examined the relationship between diabetes and hearing loss. In one study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) those with diabetes were found to be more than twice as likely to have mild to moderate hearing loss than those without the disease. A separate study published by the Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism analyzed the results of more than 20,000 participants and concluded that diabetics were more likely to have hearing loss than those without the disease, regardless of their age.
While researchers are uncertain as to exactly how diabetes negatively impacts our sense of hearing, most believe that high blood glucose levels cause damage to the small blood vessels in the inner ear.
Our inner ears are lined with hair cells called stereocilia. These hairs cells are responsible for translating the noise our ears collect into electrical impulses, which are then sent to the brain where we process them into recognizable sounds. Like other parts of the body, these hair cells require good circulation to function. If damaged, these cells cannot regenerate and hearing loss would be permanently affected.
With a higher likelihood of developing hearing loss, it is recommended that diabetics take certain precautions to avoid damaging these cells, including:
- Turning down the volume on personal electronic devices and limiting the use of devices that require headphones or earbuds
- Protecting your ears from excessive noise with earplugs if you engage in noisy hobbies or attend loud events.
- Incorporating an appropriate amount of exercise into your daily routine. Even a moderate amount improves circulation and blood flow.
- Maintaining an appropriate weight. Excessive weight makes it more difficult for your heart to pump blood effectively to all parts of your body, including your ears.
Most importantly, you should schedule a hearing evaluation regularly with your doctor if you have diabetes.
To speak to a doctor about how to better manage your diabetes, please call 718-206-7001.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.