Risks for Hearing Loss & Healthier Hearing for People with Diabetes

The American Diabetes Association is running ALERT!DAY through April 21, 2015 to promote awareness of risk for type 2 diabetes. You or a loved one can take a one-minute risk test and also take action by participating in a community walk.

As for those diagnosed with diabetes, they are at much higher risk (twice as likely) to develop hearing loss. Per the Better Hearing Institute, "The first study from primary care to show that hearing loss is prevalent and has a strong association with peripheral neuropathy was recently published in Practical Diabetes. The study authors called for clinicians to 'consider routinely assessing patients for hearing loss” and “promote hearing conservation strategies and raise awareness, especially among younger patients with diabetes.'"

Check out the Better Hearing Institute's breakdown of other recent studies, and be sure to share their healthy habits below!

To help protect your hearing, be sure to follow these five healthy habits:

1. Get a thorough hearing exam every year and watch for signs of hearing loss. You do it for your eyes. Now do it for your ears. Be sure to see a hearing healthcare professional every year for a thorough hearing examination. If you notice a change in your ability to hear under certain conditions—like at a restaurant or on a conference call—go sooner. And share the information with your primary care physician and endocrinologist.

2. Use hearing aids, if recommended. People often compensate for hearing difficulty by turning up the volume to unhealthy levels, which in turn can cause further hearing damage. While hearing loss is not reversible, today’s hearing aids can dramatically enhance your ability to hear and engage with others—which can make a tremendous difference in your overall quality of life. Hearing aid technology has advanced radically in recent years. Many hearing aids are virtually invisible, sitting discreetly and comfortably inside the ear canal. They adjust to all kinds of noise environments and pick up sound from all directions. Best of all, many are wireless. Today’s hearing aids can stream sound directly from your smartphone, home entertainment system, and other electronics directly into the hearing aid itself—at volumes just right for you. Some are even waterproof.

3. Keep your blood sugar under control. Just as your heart, eye, and nerve health are affected by your blood sugar levels, your hearing health may be as well. Work with your doctor to monitor your blood sugar and take appropriate medicines as prescribed.

4. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Even for people without diabetes, a healthy lifestyle benefits hearing health. Not smoking, exercising, and maintaining a healthy diet all support your ability to hear. In fact, studies show that smoking and obesity may increase the risk of hearing loss, while regular physical activity seems to help protect against it. http://ow.ly/DbkDZ;  http://ow.ly/DbkT9;  http://ow.ly/Dbldc

5. Use ear protection. Everyone is at risk of noise-induced hearing loss. But using ear protection is one of the best—and simplest—things you can do to preserve your hearing. Carry earplugs with you, especially when you know you’ll be somewhere noisy. (Check out Sound's options for custom earplugs!) Use appropriate ear protection in loud work environments. Keep the volume on smartphones and other electronics low. Limit your use of headphones and ear buds. And get in the habit of quickly plugging your ears with your fingers and walking away if a loud noise takes you by surprise. Most of all, limit your time in noisy environments.