Keeping Friends with Diabetes Part of the Conversation

Keeping Friends with Diabetes Part of the Conversation

Studies show that adults with diabetes have an increased risk of hearing loss—even at younger ages. In fact, hearing loss is about twice as common in adults with diabetes.

Here’s the catch: Many of them don’t know it. Unlike eye exams, hearing health examinations are often overlooked in the routine regimen of care for people with diabetes.

Researchers found that people with diabetes were 2.15 times as likely as those without the disease to have hearing loss. Surprisingly, when broken down by age, the younger group was at greater risk. The results showed that those 60 and younger with diabetes were 2.61 times more likely to have hearing loss, while the risk for those older than 60 was 1.58 times higher.

WHAT’S THE DIABETES-HEARING HEALTH CONNECTION?

Hearing depends on small blood vessels and nerves in the inner ear. Studies have shown that people with diabetes have a higher rate of hearing loss than people without diabetes. Although the relationship between diabetes and hearing loss is still being investigated, researchers theorize that, over time, high blood glucose levels can damage the blood vessels and nerves of the inner ear, diminishing the ability to hear.

Unlike eye exams, hearing health examinations are often overlooked in the routine regimen of care for people with diabetes, despite the fact that the vast majority of people with hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids. In fact, almost all of the 400 people who underwent hearing tests at the American Diabetes Association’s EXPO in Portland Oregon in 2012 said they had never received a physician’s recommendation for a hearing test. Yet more than half of these 400 individuals were found to have hearing loss. And nearly all of them said they did not know that hearing loss is associated with diabetes.

HOW HEARING AIDS MAY HELP

Research shows that hearing loss is frequently associated with other physical, mental, and emotional health conditions, and that people who address their hearing loss often experience better quality of life. Eight out of 10 hearing aid users, in fact, say they’re satisfied with the changes that have occurred in their lives specifically due to their hearing aids—from how they feel about themselves to the positive changes they see in their relationships, social interactions, and work lives.

When people with even mild hearing loss use hearing aids, they often improve their job performance; enhance their communication skills; increase their earnings potential; improve their professional and interpersonal relationships; stave off depression; gain an enhanced sense of control over their lives; and better their quality of life.

So let’s get the word out—and keep our friends and family members with diabetes in the conversation.