Diabetes is a serious illness affecting millions of Americans. It occurs when your blood sugar is too high. If not managed, uncontrolled diabetes can lead to cardiovascular problems, kidney failure, nerve damage, amputation and can even be fatal.
Having diabetes can also make you more at risk for hearing loss. Let’s examine why diabetes poses a risk to your hearing health, as well as steps you can take to protect your hearing if you have diabetes.
There are three types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes. Some of the more common diabetes symptoms include:
- Intense hunger and thirst
- Frequent urination
- Losing weight without trying
- Blurred vision
- Numbness or tingling in extremities
- Wounds that are slow to heal
How Diabetes Can Increase Hearing Loss Risk
Uncontrolled high blood sugar can damage blood vessels all over the body, including in the inner ear. This damage affects circulation to the hair cells in the ear, which play a vital role in the hearing process. Lack of circulation can permanently damage the cells and cause hearing loss.
Manage Diabetes to Minimize Hearing Loss Risk
Controlling your diabetes is the best way to help minimize your risk of hearing loss. Managing your blood sugar levels is the most common way to do that. In addition to taking any medications prescribed by your doctor, here are some ways you can manage your blood sugar.
- Get regular physical activity.
- Stock up on fruits and vegetables next time you’re at Boise Co-Op or your local grocery store.
- Monitor your blood sugar levels regularly.
- Don’t skip meals.
- Avoid sugary drinks.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Manage your A1C levels and get regular testing.
Other Ways to Protect Your Ears
- Avoid loud noises whenever possible. If your work requires you to be around loud noises all day, always remember to wear protective earplugs or noise-canceling devices.
- Quit smoking, or better yet, don’t start in the first place. Smoking is a risk factor for both diabetes and hearing loss. Avoiding or eliminating it from your life cuts down on your chances for developing either condition.
- Get a hearing test. Hearing loss is gradual and often it can take years before people realize they have a problem. By getting your hearing checked out, you know the exact status of your hearing health. If any hearing loss has occurred, treating it early will lead to better outcomes and help prevent additional problems that come with untreated hearing loss.
To learn more about hearing loss or to schedule an appointment with an audiologist, call Southwest Idaho ENT today.