This morning the morning sounds come to me as I write to you. Thereís hubby grinding the coffee. There are the blue jays and crows. There is my tinnitus, the constant emergency-broadcast high pitch signal in my head caused by hearing nerve damage. When I turn on my hearing aid, the tinnitus mostly subsides, and I discover the rain hitting the leaves, the songbirds singing, the dogsí wheezing.
If, like me, youíre fighting morbid obesity, youíre prone to developing Type II diabetes. If, as I did, you are waiting for fasting blood sugar tests to tell you youíre actually in trouble before you start losing weight, you may be waiting too long. Damage to nerves and tissues happen for us much sooner than youíd think. Most of it is recoverable, but some, frankly, is not. Like our hearing, for instance.
I never knew that diabetes caused hearing loss. Or that thyroid problems caused hearing loss. I donít know for certain if these things caused mine, but my body took a few hits from my extra weight, and somewhere along the way, Iíve lost high-frequency sounds. You do the math.
My hearing loss isnít severe. Not profound. But it is significant enough to annoy me, to affect my ability to understand people in crowded rooms and hear whatís going on in the world. It cuts hard into my appreciation of good music. I have technology to help me overcome the loss, and though I am thrilled and impressed by the newer hearing aids, Iím here to tell you that natural hearing is far superior to augmented hearing. Your hearing is worth protecting
Unfortunately hearing nerve damage, to date, is largely irreversible. That is, once youíve blasted too much Joplin too loudly for too long on your morning and evening commute, youíve had it, sister. And when itís gone, itís gone.
Hearing loss sneaks up on you. The sort you get from nerve damage as you grow older may progress quite a bit before you notice. In fact, it may be people around you who notice first. Thatís because when we lose high-frequency sound, we donít lose whole words, but just the high-pitched sounds that make our languages make sense to us. So you might lose your ability to hear consonant sounds, especially ďSĒ and ďTH.Ē When you do, this sentence might sound like this: When you o, i en-en mi oun li i. You may actually be able to make sense of that for quite awhile, but your brain is scrambling to sort it out, and you often miss-hear, or miss altogether, meaning in conversation.
So you start avoiding crowded places. And then small gatherings. And then conversation itself just exhausts you. Hearing loss is, above all, isolating.
So what to do to protect your hearing from diabetes-induced loss? Regular exercise is the most important thing you can do to control the disease. Following a diabetic diet makes sense too. And of course, turn down the volume on any device you listen to regularly. Use hearing protection devices when using things with loud motors or that make explosive sounds (leaf blower, lawn mower, jack hammer, bazooka). Use hearing protection at the races and at loud concerts and clubs too.
And maybe go for a hearing check. Just to see. Fair warning, happy hearing.