This November, Test Your Hearing in Honor of American Diabetes Month

Hearing loss prevention
Dr. Steinberg
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What can you do to celebrate American Diabetes Month this year? The opportunities range from supporting those in your life who have diabetes or showing gratitude to a diabetes caregiver to donating money to further research into the condition. You might even want to raise awareness about the disease by educating yourself and letting others know what you have found. Beyond these practical steps you can take, another way to honor American Diabetes Month this November might come as a surprise. Getting a hearing test is a way to reduce the number of people living with undiagnosed diabetes!

An estimated 1 in 5 people with diabetes do not realize they have the condition, so you can use the results of a hearing test to prompt further testing into your blood glucose levels and other indicators of diabetes. The connection between hearing loss and diabetes is complex, and researchers are still seeking to understand how it works in the context of the body. As they explore the connection, the statistics don’t lie. Those who have diabetes have double the rate of hearing loss as those who do not have diabetes. Furthermore, those with pre-diabetes levels of blood glucose have 30 percent higher rates of hearing loss than those with normal blood glucose levels. With these statistics in mind, you can see why a hearing test is a great way to expose the possibility of undiagnosed diabetes.

When you tell your primary care physician that you have recently been diagnosed with hearing loss, that finding can prompt your healthcare team to explore further testing into the conditions that are related to hearing loss, including diabetes. Let’s take a closer look at the connection between these two conditions, helping you better understand how to diagnose and prevent them at the same time.

Diabetes and Hearing Loss Diagnosis

When two conditions are considered “comorbidities,” it means that they are commonly found together. More specifically, the population of people with one condition will demonstrate a significantly higher percentage of the other condition than we see in the general population. Such is the case with diabetes and hearing loss. Although we know that these two conditions are considered to be comorbidities, it remains unclear how they are connected to one another. Researchers have a few ideas about the connection.

First, the elevated blood glucose levels that are associated with diabetes can lead to a depleted supply of oxygen to the ears. The tiny, hairlike organelles of the inner ear, called stereocilia, are highly sensitive to fluctuations in oxygen supply. When they don’t get the oxygen they need, they can become bent, broken, or otherwise damaged as a result. Another possibility has to do with the higher rates of broken blood vessels among those who have diabetes. When the blood vessels near the inner ear are broken, they can also lead to a diminished supply of oxygenated blood.

A third possibility has to do with the auditory nervous system that connects the ears with the brain. We know that those who have diabetes can have higher rates of nerve damage, and that likelihood of damage applies to the auditory nervous system, as well. With these potential connections in mind, you can see that a hearing test is a way to signal the possibility of diabetes. An estimated 1 in 5 people with diabetes do not know they have the condition, and improving the rates of diagnosis is a great way to celebrate American Diabetes Month.

When you get your hearing test, you will be pointing yourself on the path toward treatment for the condition and awareness of the heightened risk of the many comorbidities, including diabetes. Managing diabetes and pre-diabetes requires coordination with your healthcare team and can prompt some lifestyle changes. The sooner you begin to address diabetes, the better able you will be to manage the health effects in the interconnected web of the body. Why not schedule your hearing test today? You can honor American Diabetes Month by getting a test, and. you will set yourself up to receive the many benefits that come with the knowledge of your hearing ability.