November is National Diabetes Month. Right after Halloween — and in time for Thanksgiving — it’s a reminder that this diet-sensitive condition can be a significant force in creating chronic health issues and poor outcomes.
Unfortunately, along with the better-known litany of health ramifications stemming from diabetes — especially when untreated or when patients ignore the guidelines of health professionals — hearing health is also on the list of consequences.
In fact, studies have shown that diabetics are at a significantly higher risk of developing hearing loss — regardless of age or other risk factors. So, as in the case of heart disease, kidney failure, and tissue damage, retaining one’s hearing is yet another reason to take diabetes seriously.
This is due to the inner ear’s significant need for healthy blood flow to function. The immediate need for energy and nutrients — in the form of glucose, which diabetes inhibits — is one factor in making the condition detrimental to hearing. Ears use a significant amount of energy converting sound waves into the electrical impulses sent to the brain — the process that constitutes our hearing what is around us.
The lasting damage that diabetes can wreak on blood vessels is the secondary concern, since this increasingly depletes the ability of the ears to get the nutrients they need to stay healthy.
Along with getting treated and following medical advice regarding blood pressure and cholesterol, the best things to do to lessen the impact of diabetes is to eat as healthy a diet as possible (just cut out the junk food), cease using any tobacco products, and exercise. With regards to hearing, protecting ears from damage due to extreme loudness is even more important, since the ears’ ability to heal themselves is diminished by diabetes.