Skinny Daily Post


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.

Diabetes and hearing loss

Noise Induced hearing loss


2 thoughts on “Hear Me, Hear Me

  1. Bronwyn Park says:

    I have Type 1 diabetes, diagnosed 10 years ago. I assume (in the absence of a clarifying statement) that this article refers to Type 2, which is far more prevelant among the over-50 set, but you can bet I will start paying more attention to my hearing. Starting with asking our school nurse (I’m a teacher) to check my hearing when she checks the kids. Every year. I’m just thankful I have ready access to the testing.

    Also, for those who are looking for ways to preserve what hearing they have left, I have been “stuffing” my ears at sporting events and movies for years. That is, I tear bits off a clean tissue, wad them up and plug my ears. I can still hear, but I come out of the event without my ears ringing. (I remember my father doing this, and being Horribly Embarrassed, at 15. Now I’m doing it! Thanks, Dad!)

  2. Mary says:

    Thanks for posting this, I”d never heard it before. Its interesting though..a few years ago my ear doc said I had an excessive amound of ear wax and I should get a sugar test. I went..huh? (And not from loss of hearing)…how could sugar and ear wax have anything to do with one another. But he said they did, that people with blood sugar problems often have wax problems. Wild. I didn’t get the test he recommended, but did get the fasting sugar test later. I wasn’t diabetic but my doc did say I was hypoglycemic and needed to watch it or I would be.

    Seems like nearly everything is related to blood sugar. I’ve been trying to avoid high sugar foods. I don’t do low carb, but one thing this low carb craze has done is gotten more low sugar products on the market at least.

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