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World Health Day: 10 Facts on Diabetes

04/07/2016

The World Health Organization (WHO) has posted ten facts on diabetes in recognition of today’s World Health Day theme. Piggybacking on these, we present 10 facts about diabetes and hearing loss.

Hearing damage, including loss of hearing and tinnitus, can be linked to diabetes, yet many people with the condition aren’t aware they’re at risk. Here’s why it’s important to have any suspected hearing loss diagnosed, and what need to know to preserve your hearing if you already know you’re diabetic.

  1. In the United States, nearly 30 million people have diabetes, and an estimated 34.5 million also have some type of hearing loss. The two overlap, as hearing loss is twice as common in diabetics as in people without the disease.
  2. It’s risky to ignore any indications of undiagnosed diabetes like sensorineural hearing loss at the higher frequencies. Not having your hearing assessed could cost you more than your ability to hear.
  3. Yet another reason the onset of hearing problems shouldn’t be ignored ― they could indicate undiagnosed early-onset Type 2 diabetes. 30 percent of the approximately 86 million prediabetics in the US have a 30 percent higher occurrence of hearing loss than peers with normal glucose levels.
  4. Children born to mothers who experience gestational diabetes have a greater likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life, which is the form that most often involves hearing loss.
  5. The commonest form of diabetes, Type 2, is also the one most often linked to hearing problems.
  6. Cardiovascular disease, also commonly found in diabetics, is a significant contributor to hearing loss due to the sensitivity of the inner ear to inadequate blood flow.
  7. If you have Medicare Part B, it will cover diagnostic hearing and balance exams if your doctor or other health care provider orders these tests to see if you need medical treatment. This will likely be the case if you have been diagnosed with diabetes, since hearing loss is a known complication.If qualified for Medicaid, a child under the age of 21 must be afforded appropriate screening, diagnosis, and treatment for hearing loss, with the cost covered by their state. As for adults, coverage for hearing services varies from state-to-state.
  8. Although it isn’t discussed as frequently as complications like blindness and nerve damage, untreated diabetes can also cause hearing loss. Other hearing-related complications include balance problems and tinnitus.
  9. Like Type 2 diabetes, the best cure for hearing loss is prevention (e.g., wearing hearing protection around very loud sounds). However, sometimes there is nothing you can do to avoid either condition. If you develop diabetes, it can be treated with insulin injections just as effectively as hearing loss and tinnitus can be treated with hearing aids.
  10. Many people write off health changes like hearing difficulties as “just part of getting older.” In reality, they could be early-warning signs of a serious condition like diabetes. Don’t ignore hearing loss – talk to your doctor about getting your hearing tested!

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