We're starting a new series on comorbidities. Comorbidity means two or more chronic health conditions in the same person that happen at the same time or one right after another. Comorbidities can interact with each other and affect the course and prognosis of each disorder. November is National/American Diabetes Month, so we're kicking off our comorbidity series by exploring the link between hearing loss and diabetes.
People who have diabetes may be at a higher risk for hearing loss. According to the National Institutes of Health, hearing loss is twice as common in adults with diabetes compared to adults who don't have diabetes. Adults with pre-diabetes have a 30% higher rate of hearing loss compared to those with normal blood sugar (glucose).
How common is diabetes?
30.3 million US adults have diabetes or one in ten Americans. Another 84 million US adults have pre-diabetes, which is one in three Americans. The majority of pre-diabetics don't know that they have pre-diabetes and that they're at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
How do these health issues happen?
Diabetes is a condition where the body doesn't properly process food to use as energy. Most food is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas makes a hormone called insulin that helps glucose get into our cells. When you have diabetes, your body doesn't make enough insulin or can't use its own insulin as well as it should and this causes sugars to build up in the blood.
High blood sugar (glucose) levels can damage blood vessels and nerves throughout the body. Research suggests that over time, high blood sugar (glucose) levels may damage small blood vessels and nerves inside the inner ear, diminishing the ability to hear. Diabetes can also cause heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and lower-extremity amputations. It's the seventh leading cause of death in the US.
What can I do?
#1 If you are overweight, lose ten pounds or more
Being overweight is the leading modifiable risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Losing just 10 or 15 pounds can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
#2 Make one healthy lifestyle improvement
People with pre-diabetes can lower their risk by more than half by making lifestyle changes, while people with diabetes can mange their disease by doing the same. It's important to eat healthy and be physically active. Limit meal portions and fill your plate with half fruits and veggies. Walk 30 minutes a day, five days a week and it can help delay and prevent diabetes.
#3 Take the lead
Because November is American Diabetes Month, there are a lot of resources available and events happening this month. Participate in a fundraiser or join a local support group organized through your hospital or the American Diabetes Association. Visit the American Diabetes Association site.
Learn something new about diabetes this month and become empowered. You are the center of your diabetes care team.Learn more about treatment.
Raise awareness about diabetes in your community and talk with family and friends. Share and spread the word on social media for National Diabetes Month. Get resources here.
#4 Get checked
Early detection and treatment of diabetes can decrease the risk of developing complications, so go to regular medical checkups. If you or someone you know has diabetes, it's also important to get a hearing screening every year. 95% of hearing loss can be treated. Here's an easy way to set up a hearing screening today.