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Make Hearing Health Part of the Mix in Diabetes Care

Make Hearing Health Part of the Mix in Diabetes Care, BHI Encourages

Washington, DC, November 2017—Making hearing health part of their routine medical care is especially important for the more than 29 million Americans with diabetes, says the Better Hearing Institute (BHI). Approximately one-in-eleven people in the United States have diabetes, and many of them don’t know that they’re about twice as likely to develop hearing loss as those without the disease. Another 86 million adults in the U.S. have prediabetes. For these people, the rate of hearing loss is 30 percent higher than for those with normal blood glucose, according to the American Diabetes Association. Left unaddressed, hearing loss can have negative consequences on physical, mental, and emotional quality of life. And hearing loss has been tied to other significant health issues.

To help promote awareness of the connection between diabetes and hearing loss as part of American Diabetes Month in November, and World Diabetes Day on November 14, BHI is urging people to take its free, quick, and confidential online hearing check at BetterHearing.org. Anyone can take the online survey to determine if they need a comprehensive hearing test by a hearing healthcare professional.

What’s the diabetes-hearing connection?

Hearing depends on small blood vessels and nerves in the inner ear. Researchers theorize that over time high blood glucose levels can damage these blood vessels and nerves, diminishing the ability to hear. 

A meta-analysis, which looked at 13 studies, found that people with diabetes were 2.15 times more likely to have hearing loss. When broken down by age, it found that younger individuals were at an even greater risk. Those older than 60 with diabetes were 1.58 times more likely to have hearing loss, while the risk for those 60 and younger with the disease was 2.61 times higher. 

Addressing hearing loss brings many benefits

Maintaining a good quality of life is important for people with diabetes. Here are some ways that addressing hearing loss can have a positive impact, according to research conducted by BHI:

  1. A positive outlook: People with hearing loss who use hearing aids are more likely to be optimistic.
  2. Social engagement: Most people with hearing loss who use hearing aids say it has a positive effect on their relationships and ability to participate in group activities. They’re also more likely to meet up with friends to socialize and have a strong social network.
  3. Enjoyment: Most people who currently wear hearing aids say it has helped their overall quality of life. In fact, people with hearing difficulty who use hearing aids are more likely to get pleasure in doing things and are more likely to feel engaged in life. What’s more, people with hearing loss who use hearing aids are less likely to feel down, depressed, or hopeless.
  4. Confidence: Many people with hearing loss say they feel more confident and better about themselves due to using hearing aids. In fact, people with hearing loss who use hearing aids are more likely to tackle problems actively. And most hearing aid users in the workforce say it has helped their performance on the job.

Quality of life is an important part of the conversation on diabetes. Monitoring hearing health and addressing hearing loss can make a difference.

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