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Hearing loss is a challenging condition on its own, but did you know that it can be related to many other health conditions, as well? Recent studies have shown a connection with conditions as varied as cardiovascular disease, depression, physical injuries, and even dementia.
Recent studies have demonstrated that diabetes can be added to that list of “comorbidities” with hearing loss. Although it is not entirely clear how this relationship works, it is important for those with either one of the conditions to be aware and sensitized to the possibility of the other, and you might even think of them as possible warning signs for other related health conditions.
Let’s take a look at the relationship between hearing loss and diabetes, as well as how that connection might exist in the body.
When it comes to hearing loss, your ears rely on tiny hairlike organelles called stereocilia to do the work of sensitively identifying differences between sounds. Housed in fluid-filled chambers in the cochlea of the inner ear, these fragile body parts require oxygen, nutrients, and support from the rest of the body to do their work. This oxygenated blood is transported to your stereocilia through the blood vessels, so the health of the blood and cardiovascular system is crucial for hearing function.
A recent study conducted at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit compared rates of hearing loss and both Type I and Type II diabetes in women over age 60. The results of the study demonstrated higher rates of hearing loss in older women with both types of diabetes.
Other studies have shown that hearing loss rates were as high as double among those who have diabetes than those who did not within the sample. How might this connection be established in the body?
Well, just as the stereocilia need oxygenated blood to properly do their work of sensing sound, diabetes can get in the way of that process. It seems like high blood glucose levels can damage the small blood vessels in the inner ear, making them inefficient at transporting oxygenated blood to their destinations in the cochlea.
How to Manage Diabetes
Managing diabetes is an incredibly sensitive process, and you should follow your doctor’s orders when it comes to sugar consumption and the right blend of treatments to keep your blood sugar in the healthy range. Generally speaking, a healthy diet is a good approach to management, making sure to eat a variety of fresh vegetables and to limit saturated fats, sodium, and added sweeteners.
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is a way to lubricate all of your body parts from the inside out. That ever-present companion to healthy nutrition—exercise—can also work wonders for the daily life of a person with diabetes. While maintaining a close watch on blood sugar levels, you can engage in physical activity and exercise that strengthens your heart, lungs, and blood vessels.
Exercise doesn’t always look like a trip to the gym, and a simple walk around your home can have an even better effect if it is something you’re able to enact on a regular basis. Getting plenty of rest is important for cellular regeneration throughout the body, so make sure that you are getting enough rest in terms of time spent sleeping and the quality of sleep you can enjoy.
Finally, don’t neglect your regular check-ups with your physician and diabetes management specialists. These appointments are crucial for monitoring your insulin performance in the bloodstream, as well as your general health. When you have a good handle on diabetes management, it is even possible that your healthy lifestyle might be preventing hearing loss, as well.
Though more remains to be learned about the connection between diabetes and hearing loss, the pure correlation between the two conditions should give us pause. If you are concerned about hearing loss, contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing test.