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Why is it so important to get routine hearing tests if I have diabetes?

Research shows that people with diabetes are about twice as likely to develop hearing loss.

Yet hearing tests are frequently overlooked in routine diabetes care. In fact, some experts believe that hearing loss may be an under-recognized complication of diabetes. http://ow.ly/DuVyB

A meta-analysis of 13 different studies found that younger people with diabetes were at an even greater risk of hearing loss. Those with diabetes who were older than 60 were 1.58 times more likely to have hearing loss. But the risk jumped to 2.61 times higher for those 60 and younger. http://ow.ly/DpXDv

Another study, by researchers at Henry Ford Hospital, found that women between the ages of 60 and 75 with well-controlled diabetes had better hearing than women whose diabetes was poorly controlled, shedding light on the importance of keeping diabetes under control to maintain healthy hearing. http://ow.ly/DCB8K

Still another study, of patients from a large primary care clinic in the United Kingdom, found that hearing loss is prevalent among people with diabetes and has a strong association with peripheral neuropathy. The hearing loss group in that study had almost twice the rate of at-risk feet. http://ow.ly/KBYFd

BHI strongly encourages people with diabetes to include regular hearing tests as part of their routine diabetes care. Unrecognized and/or unaddressed hearing loss can interfere with good diabetes management by posing a barrier to good communications between people with diabetes and their doctors. What’s more, untreated hearing loss is often associated with other significant physical, mental, and emotional health conditions.

To help you take the first step, BHI has a free, quick, and confidential online hearing check. Anyone can take the confidential online survey to determine if they need a comprehensive hearing test by a hearing healthcare professional.

Research shows that when people address hearing loss, their quality of life often improves. Eight out of 10 hearing aid users, in fact, say they’re satisfied with the changes that have occurred in their lives due to their hearing aids—from how they feel about themselves to the positive changes they see in their relationships, social interactions, and work lives.

5 Habits for Healthier Hearing for People with Diabetes

To help protect your hearing, be sure to follow these five healthy habits:

  1. Get a thorough hearing exam every year and watch for signs of hearing loss. You do it for your eyes. Now do it for your ears. Be sure to see a hearing healthcare professional every year for a thorough hearing examination. If you notice a change in your ability to hear under certain conditions—like at a restaurant or on a conference call—go sooner. And share the information with your primary care physician and endocrinologist.
  2. Use hearing aids, if recommended. People often compensate for hearing difficulty by turning up the volume to unhealthy levels, which in turn can cause further hearing damage. While hearing loss is not reversible, today’s hearing aids can dramatically enhance your ability to hear and engage with others—which can make a tremendous difference in your overall quality of life. Hearing aid technology has advanced radically in recent years. Many hearing aids are virtually invisible, sitting discreetly and comfortably inside the ear canal. They adjust to all kinds of noise environments and pick up sound from all directions. Best of all, many are wireless. Today’s hearing aids can stream sound directly from your smartphone, home entertainment system, and other electronics directly into the hearing aid itself—at volumes just right for you. Some are even waterproof.
  3. Keep your blood sugar under control. Just as your heart, eye, and nerve health are affected by your blood sugar levels, your hearing health may be as well. Work with your doctor to monitor your blood sugar and take appropriate medicines as prescribed.
  4. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Even for people without diabetes, a healthy lifestyle benefits hearing health. Not smoking, exercising, and maintaining a healthy diet all support your ability to hear. In fact, studies show that smoking and obesity may increase the risk of hearing loss, while regular physical activity seems to help protect against it.  http://ow.ly/DbkDZhttp://ow.ly/DbkT9http://ow.ly/Dbldc
  5. Use ear protection. Everyone is at risk of noise-induced hearing loss. But using ear protection is one of the best—and simplest—things you can do to preserve your hearing. Carry disposable earplugs with you, especially when you know you’ll be somewhere noisy. Use appropriate ear protection in loud work environments. Keep the volume on smartphones and other electronics low. Limit your use of headphones and ear buds. And get in the habit of quickly plugging your ears with your fingers and walking away if a loud noise takes you by surprise. Most of all, limit your time in noisy environments.

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Other Questions & Answers Below:

What’s the link between chronic kidney disease (CKD) and hearing loss?

A team of Australian researchers found that older adults with moderate chronic kidney disease (CKD) have a higher prevalence of hearing loss than those of the same age without CKD, according to a  study published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases and  highlighted on the National Kidney Foundation website.

The researchers assessed more than 2,900 people aged 50 and older, including 513 with moderate CKD. More than 54 percent of those with CKD  reported some level of hearing loss compared to only 28 percent of the rest of the group. Nearly 30 percent of the CKD participants showed severe hearing loss compared with only 10 percent of the non-CKD participants.

According to study author, David C. Harris, structural and functional similarities between tissues in the inner ear and in the kidney may explain the link between moderate chronic kidney disease and hearing loss. He also said that toxins that accumulate in kidney failure can damage nerves, including those in the inner ear, according to the National Kidney Foundation’s  website.

BHI believes that hearing tests by a hearing care professional should be a routine part of the medical care for people with kidney disease to help optimize their quality of life.

March is National Kidney Month. For more information on kidney disease, visit  www.kidney.org.

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2015 New Year’s Resolutions: How can getting my hearing tested make 2015 a better year for me?

If you want to make a New Year’s resolution that will really boost your life and well-being throughout all of 2015, then get your hearing tested.

Addressing hearing loss can add to quality of life in many ways. Here’s a short-list of what getting a hearing test and using professionally fitted hearing aids, if recommended by a hearing care professional, may do for you:

  • Strengthen ties with family and friends. Healthy relationships rest largely on good communication. In one BHI study, more than half the respondents said using hearing aids improved their relationships at home, their social lives, and their ability to join in groups. Many even saw improvements in their romance.
  • Raise your spirits. People with untreated hearing loss often feel angry, frustrated, anxious, isolated, and depressed. But research shows that when they use hearing aids, many become more socially engaged, feel a greater sense of safety and independence, and see a general improvement in their overall quality of life.
  • Lead you to feel better about yourself. An important perk of using hearing aids can be enhanced emotional well-being. Research shows that when people with hearing loss use hearing aids, many feel more in control of their lives and less self-critical. One BHI study found that the majority of people with mild and severe hearing loss felt better about themselves and life overall as a result of using hearing aids.
  • Keep your mind sharp. Studies out of Johns Hopkins linked hearing loss with accelerated cognitive decline in older adults and found that seniors with hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia over time. BHI studies found that many people with hearing loss report improvements in their cognitive skills with the use of hearing aids.
  • Unleash your earning potential. Hearing your best at work helps you do your best. One study found that using hearing aids reduced the risk of income loss by 90 to 100 percent for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65 to 77 percent for those with severe to moderate hearing loss. And people with hearing loss who use hearing aids are more likely to be employed than their peers who don’t.

So go ahead.  Click here to take a free, quick, and confidential online hearing check to determine if you need a comprehensive hearing test by a hearing healthcare professional. And let us be the first to congratulate you on your motivation and determination. You’ve taken the first step on the road to better hearing and to securing a better quality of life for yourself in 2015. 

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How do I know if I have a hearing loss?

The signs of hearing loss can be subtle and emerge slowly, or they can be significant and come on suddenly. Either way, there are common indications. You should suspect hearing loss if you experience any of the signs below. You might have hearing loss if you…

Socially:

  • Require frequent repetition;
  • Have difficulty following conversations involving more than two people;
  • Think that other people sound muffled or like they're mumbling;
  • Have difficulty hearing in noisy situations, like conferences, restaurants, malls, or crowded meeting rooms;
  • Have trouble hearing children and women;
  • Have your TV or radio turned up to a high volume;
  • Answer or respond inappropriately in conversations;
  • Have ringing in your ears; and/or
  • Read lips or more intently watch people's faces when they speak with you.

Emotionally:

  • Feel stressed out from straining to hear what others are saying;
  • Feel annoyed at other people because you can't hear or understand them;
  • Feel embarrassed to meet new people or from misunderstanding what others are saying;
  • Feel nervous about trying to hear and understand; and/or
  • Withdraw from social situations that you once enjoyed because of difficulty hearing.

Medically:

  • Have a family history of hearing loss;
  • Take medications that can harm the hearing system (ototoxic drugs);
  • Have diabetes, heart, circulation or thyroid problems;
  • Have been exposed to very loud sounds over a long period or single exposure to explosive noise.

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