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Diabetes and Hearing Loss

by April Maguire

Diabetes is one of the most widespread illnesses in the United States. According to the most recent statistics, roughly 29 million Americans currently suffer from the condition, and experts estimate that another 8 million or so have diabetes but are yet to be diagnosed. Those numbers are particularly scary when you consider all of the complications that can arise from diabetes. Among the most well known of these complications are cardiovascular disease, circulation problems, kidney failure and eye degeneration, but hearing loss is also incredibly common in diabetics.

You may be wondering how a disease that revolves around the body's production of insulin could lead to hearing issues. As diabetes progresses, it can actually affect the nerves in the inner ear that transmit sounds to the brain. Once these nerves are damaged or weakened, your brain's ability to take in and interpret information becomes severely limited, ultimately leading to a noticeable amount of hearing loss. Moreover, since diabetes has been linked to neuropathic issues generally, hearing loss could also be a side effect of this larger brain degradation.

Managing Diabetes

In order to avoid diabetes-related hearing loss, the best solution is to make sure that the disease is properly managed. In addition to making sure that insulin levels in the body are kept within normal range, doctors also recommend that diabetics exercise regularly. Even a small amount of exercise every day will keep sugar flowing within the bloodstream and keep it from lingering in a particular area and causing damage. Additionally, increased blood flow will help to ensure that your nerves, like the sensitive ones in your ears, continue to function properly. Also, people with diabetes should eat foods that are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates and lower in sugar.

Hearing Loss Prevention

Even if diabetes is properly managed, hearing loss can still occur. Accordingly, doctors recommend that people with diabetes undergo a hearing exam to get an idea of their hearing ability. After all, without a baseline it can be difficult to track loss of hearing over time, and subsequent annual tests may be needed in order to ensure that the hearing loss isn't progressing. If hearing loss is detected, it's important for patients to wear hearing assistive devices. On a practical level, these devices can improve your ability to interact with the world around you, but they can also slow cognitive decline and help the brain retain its ability to process sounds.

Diabetes is a complex disease that can wreak havoc on numerous systems within your body. If you or a loved one suffers from the condition, make sure that it's not impacting hearing ability. A trained audiologist can help to detect hearing loss and offer tips to preserve hearing.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about hearing loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!

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