Increases in Diabetes Could Mean Increases in Hearing Loss

April 7th, 2016 | by Andreas Seelisch | Hearing Loss
Increases in Diabetes Could Mean Increases in Hearing Loss

In our blog we’ve talked about the links between diabetes and hearing loss in the past. This year the World Health Organization’s (WHO) campaign to focus on ways to prevent diabetes worldwide is the theme for World Health Day.

Theory behind diabetes and hearing loss link

Studies have shown there’s a higher prevalence of hearing loss among individuals with diabetes.

The prevailing theory is that the tiny blood vessels in your ears are damaged by high blood glucose levels. Damage to these blood vessels are what also lead to eye, kidney and nerve diseases.

Diabetes in Canada

Type 2 diabetes is recognized in Canada as one of the fastest growing diseases in the nation. There are over 60,000 new cases every year and nine out of 10 people with the disease have Type 2 diabetes.

About 11 million Canadians are either living with diabetes or in a prediabetes stage.

Diabetes in the US

In the United States, diabetes and hearing loss are two of that nation’s most widespread health concerns. One study shows that hearing loss is two times more likely in people with diabetes.

Of the 86 million people that have prediabetes, hearing loss is 30% more likely than in those individuals with normal blood sugar levels.


Global increase in diabetes

What’s happening in Canada and the US echoes the WHO’s Global Report on Diabetes. An estimated 422 million adults across the globe had the disease in 2014. This is nearly quadruple the amount of the people in the world with diabetes in 1980.

Diabetes is seeing growth mostly in low and middle-income countries. This growth is due, in part, to increases in the number of people that are overweight or obese and a widespread lack of physical activity.

According to WHO, diabetes is to blame for 1.5 million deaths in 2012. Over 80% of those deaths occurred in low and middle-income nations.

Over 90% of all diabetes cases in the world are in its Type 2 form.

Currently, Type 1 diabetes is not preventable and those who have it rely on insulin to live.

They say an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

Here are 8 ways to lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes:

  1. Don’t smoke
  2. Avoid excessive weight gain
  3. Be physically active
  4. Limit your fat and sugar intake
  5. Eat balanced meals
  6. Maintain a good cholesterol level
  7. Maintain normal blood pressure
  8. Follow any medical advice

WHO recommendations

Recommendations from the WHO for countries around the world, which they hope will lead to a reversal of the current trends, include:

  • Establishing mechanisms to ensure political commitment, resource allocation, leadership and advocacy
  • Increasing the capacity of ministries of health and setting national targets.
  • Ensure that policies and plans focused on diabetes are adequately funded and implemented.
  • Prioritizing actions for prevention.
  • Strengthening health care systems’ response to non-communicable diseases (NCD) including diabetes.
  • Strengthening national data collection efforts. If possible develop, maintain and strengthen diabetes’ registries.

Don’t forget that your diabetes prevention or management efforts should include a hearing test administered by an Audiologist or Hearing Instrument Practitioner.

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