Charleston residents with diabetes have an increased risk of developing a variety of health complications. One of the lesser-known ones is hearing loss—mostly likely a result of high glucose levels in the blood.
Diabetes is Widespread in South Carolina
Diabetes is one of the most common chronic health conditions in South Carolina and across the U.S. Some 30 million American adults have been diagnosed with the disease and 84 million more have prediabetes, which increases their likelihood of developing diabetes within the next five years.
How many people have diabetes in Charleston?
In Charleston, about one out of every ten people has diabetes. Because the condition often goes undiagnosed, at least initially, many might not even be aware of their disease.
It’s estimated that one out of every four people with diabetes doesn’t even know it. This puts them in danger of developing a number of medical complications such as neuropathy, heart disease, kidney failure and blindness.
Diabetes impacts life expectancy
Diabetics have a life expectancy that is 5-6 years lower than those without the disease simply because of the many possible health problems they’ll end up facing.
Diabetes Increases the Odds of Hearing Loss
Lesser known among these health risks is hearing loss, but studies show a strong link between the two. People with diabetes in Charleston are twice as likely to develop hearing loss than their peers.
Who does diabetes-related hearing loss affect?
It’s most likely to affect those between the ages of 50 and 69; about 70 percent of diabetics in this group are diagnosed with high-frequency hearing loss and one-third of them have low- or mid-frequency hearing loss.
Even pre-diabetes increases the chance of hearing loss
Individuals with prediabetes have a 30 percent higher chance of developing hearing loss.
What is the link between hearing loss and diabetes?
Health professionals aren’t exactly sure of the reason for this correlation but assume that it has to do with elevated glucose levels in the blood that are a hallmark of diabetes.
Elevated glucose often causes damage to the eyes and kidneys; it’s believed that it can also permanently damage the sensory cells of the inner ear that convert sounds into electrical impulses for the brain to interpret.
Another possibility is that the thickening of the kidney walls that often causes organ failure in diabetic patients might also affect the walls of the inner ear, since the kidneys and inner ear share a similar pathology.
Do you have diabetes? Make Hearing Tests a Priority
If you have diabetes, it’s imperative that you have your hearing tested on a regular basis. Early intervention is crucial; the sooner your condition is diagnosed, the better your odds of finding an effective long-term solution.
Individuals who have not been diagnosed with diabetes but have a higher risk of developing it due to certain factors (family history, obesity, sedentary lifestyle) should also schedule regular hearing screenings.
For more information on the link between diabetes and hearing loss and steps you can take to prevent either, make an appointment with an audiologist or health care specialist in Charleston today.
Learn more about Hearing Loss risk factors:
- Risk Factors for Hearing Loss That Might Surprise You
- Age-Related Genes for Hearing Loss Discovered
- Seasonal Allergies May Affect Hearing Loss
Our Central Charleston Area Audiologists Office Locations
180 Wingo Way, Suite 103
Mt Pleasant, SC 29464
2295 Henry Tecklenburg Dr
Charleston, SC 29414