Thursday, March 26, 2015

Can you hear me?

Silent Sam was sitting innocently watching the morning news.
Can I take a picture? Let's just say that he was not a willing victim.

In the past, I have written about how diabetes affects the feet, the eyes, and the teeth.  Now I have been reading about diabetes affecting the hearing. 

A recent study found that “hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes as it is in those who don’t have the disease.”

The Better Hearing Institute reports that younger people with diabetes were at an even greater risk of having some hearing loss.  Hearing loss in people over 60 with diabetes was 1.58 times higher than the normal population.The rate jumped to 2.61 times higher in the diabetic population under the age of 60. 

There does not seem to be any conclusive answer why hearing seems to be affected by diabetes.  It is possible that as a result of poor blood glucose level management that the small blood vessels in the ears are affected.  But this is an area that needs more research.

What does this mean to you?

If you have diabetes, then you should also talk to your physician about having your hearing checked.  It is thought that such a check can help you watch for signs of hearing loss.  Hearing loss can have a profound affect on your health.  Think of it this way, if you can’t hear well, you might not want to go out in public where you won’t be able to hear others talk.  Also, it is frustrating to have to ask people to repeat themselves all the time.  All this can lead you to withdraw from your social life. 

An audiologist giving a hearing exam. 

What should I do if I think I have hearing loss?

You should get your hearing checked.  This will tell you if you have a hearing loss. (A family story – My mother was sure my father suffered from hearing loss.  She nagged him until he went and had his hearing checked.  His hearing was fine!  He was diagnosed with “selective hearing”.  It has been a family joke ever since.)

If you do have hearing loss that could be helped with hearing aids, get them and use them.  I know from having a relative with hearing aids that using them can be a hard adjustment. Please make the effort.  It will be to your benefit to be able to hear better. 

My hearing is fine but what can I do to protect it?

First of all, maintaining good control over your blood sugar level is an important step for your overall health. One of the studies indicated that women between the ages of 60 –75 who had good control over their diabetes had better hearing than their counterparts with poor control.  Maintaining good control over your diabetes will make a huge difference in not just your hearing but in your entire physical condition. 

The other part of maintaining good hearing is using ear protection.  Everyone is at risk of having some hearing loss due to noise.  Carry ear plugs with you for when you find yourself in a high level of noise.  Make sure you don’t have your personal devices (phone, MP3 player, tablet) turned up too high.  Limit your use of ear buds.  If you find yourself in a situation where there are loud noises, walk away from that situation. 

Taking care of your hearing is important to your social well being.  Please take the time to talk to your doctor about your hearing. Have you had your hearing checked?

Thanks for reading!

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