American Diabetes Month
The American Diabetes Association recognizes November each year as American Diabetes Month to raise awareness on what exactly diabetes is and how it impacts the lives of all those who endure it. The greater community comes together each year because there is no cure for it, but there are plenty of treatments and habits to lessen its impacts and awareness and education are the first steps.
Over 10% of the US population has diabetes. Beyond this there are 88 million Americans that are pre-diabetic, meaning that they are at risk of having diabetes within a decade if they do not take proper precautions. Diabetes hurts the kidneys, the eyes, hands, and feet. Less well-known, however, is the damage that diabetes can do to one’s hearing.
Hearing loss and Diabetes
Though the exact link between diabetes and hearing loss has yet to be proven completely, it is widely presumed to be the result of the same complications that diabetes causes to other body parts. Over time, high glucose in the blood impairs blood vessels. Same as this can wreak havoc on one’s vision or the feeling in and use of one’s hands, this damage to the blood vessels can wreck the tiny blood vessels that our hearing depends on. Furthermore, it can disrupt the smooth flow of information transmitted from our ears to our brains, tasked with recognizing and decoding the signals. Diabetes risks warping and weakening the signals anywhere along these internal and instantaneous lines of communication.
One recent study found that people with diabetes are twice as likely to have trouble hearing than other people. And 30% more of pre-diabetic people report trouble hearing compared to non-diabetic people within their same age brackets. It is very uncommon to be born diabetic and it is very uncommon to be born with congenital hearing problems. But both conditions become increasingly common with age. Diabetes and hearing loss each affect about 35 million Americans, but it is only now becoming clear how many people are affected by both conditions simultaneously.
What Exactly is Diabetes?
Insulin is the hormone that regulates our levels of blood sugar. When the body fails to produce the proper amount of insulin for any reason, it is not able to correctly metabolize fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Diabetes mellitus is the name for this disorder when the blood sugar levels are thrown off due to abnormalities in one’s inulin levels.
Insulin is produced by the pancreas. Type 1 diabetes is when the immune system destroys the pancreas and anyone who suffers from this must give themselves daily insulin shots. Less than 10% of those with diabetes are Type 1. They are usually diagnosed as children and this is what is commonly referred to as Juvenile Diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes happens when the body becomes resistant to insulin due to genetic and environmental factors. This is most often treated with changes in lifestyle, diet, and medication. This is far more common than Type 1, but both forms pose equal risks to our hearts, blood vessels and nerves.
Both diabetes and hearing loss have potentially catastrophic consequences when left untreated. This is why if you know you are diagnosed diabetic it is vital that you keep up with annual hearing tests. And if you know you are having trouble hearing, it is vital that you get tested for diabetes.
Studies have proven over and over for many years that many people who live with disabling hearing loss are slow to recognize it and take appropriate action. It is simple to shrug it off and minimize its impacts, but the consequences of hearing loss will compound and damage your physical, psychological and emotional senses of well-being. Trouble following conversations easily leads to confusion, which clearly inspires one to withdraw socially. But social withdrawal often leads to loneliness and depression and even cognitive decline.
Many people understand that hearing loss is most often caused by age or damage caused by habitual proximity to loud volumes. But they may not know that it could also be a symptom of diabetes. This is why tests for diabetes must be kept up with.
Your overall health is worth the attention and investment that it asks of you. Putting it off only complicates things. Take action today to guarantee that you are doing what you can to live your best life.