Chances are, you or someone you know has had diabetes touch their lives. With so many people dealing with this illness on a daily basis, the importance of having a month dedicated to diabetes can clearly be seen in the numbers. The World Health Organization states that about 422 million people worldwide have diabetes.
While we try to wrap our heads around that number, it’s important to note that patients with diabetes are more likely to have hearing and balance issues. Early intervention with a basic audiological exam is important, especially if you have diabetes or are at high risk for diabetes.
Seeing a physician for annual blood work and exams that include a hearing exam is one way we can fight diabetes and hearing loss in our own lives. What are some other actions we can take, as individuals, to move toward a future free of diabetes?
There are a lot of little things we can do that amount to something bigger. Learning the facts about diabetes and encouraging government action to fund research is one small thing we all can do. More importantly, for your own health, you can attempt to reduce your risk factors for developing complications from this disease.
How can diabetes lead to hearing loss? Many parts of the body (hands, feet, eyes, kidneys) can be affected by nerve damage through diabetes. According to the CDC, diabetes can also cause nerve damage in your ears. Hearing loss can be caused by nerve damage from both high and low blood sugar levels. Over time, damage to the small blood vessels and nerves in the inner ear can be caused by high blood sugar levels. Low blood sugar has a slightly different effect — over time, it can damage how the nerve signals travel from the inner ear to your brain.
Having diabetes increases the risk that you also develop hearing loss. However, hearing loss is not set in stone for everyone with diabetes. It’s reassuring to note that Hear Canada‘s findings align with those of the CDC: “If you can keep the glucose levels in your blood at a normal level, you are far less likely to have hearing loss.” Managing your condition takes work and dedication to follow a healthy routine set out by your doctor.
Let’s make Diabetes Awareness Month matter! If you or a loved one have diabetes, it is recommended that you monitor your condition closely and get a hearing test no less than every two years. Keeping tabs on your overall hearing health will help catch early signs of hearing loss, and early intervention is key to avoiding even more issues, like cognitive decline.
World Health Organization. Diabetes. https://www.who.int/health-topics/diabetes#tab=tab_1. Accessed October 9, 2023.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes and Hearing Loss. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/diabetes-hearing-loss.html#:~:text=Diabetes%20can%20also%20cause%20nerve,can%20lead%20to%20hearing%20loss. Accessed October 9, 2023.
Hear Canada. Diabetes and Hearing Loss. https://www.hearcanada.com/en-ca/hearing-health-guide/hearing-loss-diabetes#:~:text=The%20results%20of%20the%20research,who%20did%20not%20have%20diabetes. Accessed October 9, 2023.