As a person managing diabetes, you know how important it is to take extra measures to protect your health. Uncontrolled blood sugar can wreak havoc on your body inside and out.
Hearing is no exception. If you have Diabetes, you’re twice as likely to develop hearing loss. Unfortunately, the risk doesn’t start when a person gets diagnosed with full-blown diabetes. Pre-diabetics, people who have elevated numbers below diabetic levels, are 30% more likely to develop hearing loss.
That’s enough to make us stand up and listen. Here’s what to do to protect your hearing.
1. Understand Why Hearing Damage Is Different
If you let your glucose levels get out of control by indulging in too many tasty treats, you know you’re doing damage to many organs, from the pancreas to the kidneys, from blood vessels to your eyes.
If you get it back under control fast enough, these parts of your body can heal, and as long as you’re not letting things get out of whack too much, you can stay healthy overall.
Hearing is different. The delicate inner ear has tiny hair-like nerves that pick up sound. Certain lifestyle and environmental factors cause them to become damaged and die. If they do, they have no way to heal or replace themselves.
That’s why most hearing loss is permanent.
Keeping a tight rein on your blood sugar is essential to keep your hearing.
2. One More Reason To Exercise
As a diabetic, you know the importance of exercise to managing blood sugar on a daily basis. Regular exercise helps you use more of that sugar so it’s not sitting in your bloodstream.
Researchers can’t definitively say how diabetes is related to hearing loss, but it very likely has to do with damage to blood vessels in the inner ear.
In some parts of your body, you have redundancies in the blood supply. If a vessel becomes damaged, other vessels can pick up the slack until that vessel repairs itself. The inner ear, unfortunately, does not have a backup system. If your inner’s blood supply is cut off, even temporarily, cell death will occur.
Exercising not only helps manage blood glucose levels. It also strengthens the circulatory system in general, reducing your chances of circulation issues that can harm vital organs.
3. Avoid Smoking
There are certain activities that enhance the damaging effects of elevated blood sugar. Smoking is one of the worst. Consider quitting if you’re currently smoking.
4. Limit Exposure to Loud Noise
All people should limit noise exposure to prevent hearing loss. Loud noise damages and kills nerve cells. If you have diabetes and also have a noisy job or lifestyle, you’re increasing your risk further.
Here are some ways to limit noise exposure:
- Get a sound meter app so you know how loud your environment really is. Anything 85 Decibels or higher will slowly cause damage.
- Wear earplugs or earmuffs when you will be exposed to loud noise like practice shooting, clearing the yard with blowers or riding a motorcycle.
- Ask to be moved away from the loudest areas at work when this is an option
- Limit headphone volume to no more than 60%. Never try to drown out sound with headphones. Get noise-canceling headphones instead.
- If you have noisy vehicles like motorcycles, tractors or a snowmobile, consider a noise-reducing muffler. You can lower the sound a little without impacting the usefulness or fun.
5. Manage Your Stress and Blood Pressure
Stress can wreak havoc on the body. If you have diabetes and high blood pressure, you could be doing double damage.
Keep blood pressure under control by working with your doctor and making lifestyle changes to help better manage stress.
6. Avoid Painkillers As a Long-Term Solution
Long-term, frequent usage of over the counter painkillers like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen have been linked to increased risk of hearing loss. Opiates, which are also used to treat pain may also increase risk when taken on an ongoing basis.
As a diabetic person, your risks are automatically higher so cutting risk where ever you can is important.
When possible, seek out natural alternatives like reducing foods that cause inflammation and eating foods that help reduce inflammation. Exercise is important here as well.
Always talk to your doctor before changing your medication, diet or exercise regimen.
7. Get a Hearing Test
Diabetic? Get a hearing test sooner rather than later. Find out where you stand, and speak with a hearing specialist to learn more about protecting your hearing.