Diabetes Has on Hearing
Diabetes is regarded one of the major health concerns in the United States given the increase of diabetes cases throughout the country. In the past few decades, diabetes has continued to affect adults and children in the United States. The increase of this condition has been associated with several considerable impacts since it generates numerous medical and related phenomena in the American society. One of the medical phenomena generated by diabetes is hearing loss given that diabetes changes the hearing of many people in America. This paper focuses on examining the perceptual phenomenon of hearing changes brought by diabetes. This analysis will include a discussion of what it feels to live with the effect of diabetes and hearing loss among Americans. The other elements included in this article is methods for prevention, treatment, and cure of hearing impairments from diabetes as well as dangers of having hearing loss brought by diabetes, and statistics on likelihood of hearing loss.
Overview of Diabetes
According to Born (n.d.), diabetes has become a growing concern throughout the world with an increase of diabetes related cases by 4.1% since 1985. There are currently 285 million people suffering from diabetes and it is estimated that this number will increase to 438 million by 2030. Diabetes cases are not only reported among adults but also children with 18.8 million diagnosed cases and 7 million undiagnosed. In the United States, diabetes is among the top ten causes of death in the country with more than 24 million people afflicted. These statistics indicate that the prevalence of this disease is increasing, which contributes to its consideration as a true epidemic.
Parker (n.d.), defines diabetes as a group of metabolic illnesses that are characterized by increased blood sugar levels and changes or irregularities in insulin secretion and action (p.22). Due to these irregularities, the metabolism of protein, carbohydrate, and fat is altered. As a result, these nutrients remain in blood-stream instead of being integrated into cells to provide structural elements and offer nourishment. Since these nutrients are not incorporated into cells, they buildup and eventually generate micro and macro-vascular damage as well as failure of the organ system. Therefore, the buildup of these substances can be simply described as the incident of cellular starvation when there is plenty.
There are different kinds of diabetes that differ in relation to their causes, severity, and impact on personal health. The first type of diabetes is Type I diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease where the body does not generate adequate insulin. This type of diabetes is associated with young adults and children who need to take daily insulin as part of the treatment. The second type of this disease is Type II diabetes, which is a metabolic disorder brought by the body’s inability to produce adequate or properly utilize insulin. The condition is associated with various factors including older age and previous history of gestational diabetes. In addition to this there is pre-diabetes condition, a stage where blood glucose levels are higher than normal though they do not reach the level of a diabetes diagnosis. The pre-diabetes condition increases the likelihood of developing Type II diabetes and cardiovascular diseases (Born, n.d.).
Impact of Diabetes on Hearing
Diabetes mellitus has considerable impacts on body systems such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, nerve disease, renopathy or kidney disease, and increased vulnerability to infection. According to Parker (n.d.), both types of diabetes can significantly damage blood vessels and nerves across the body in a manner that is irreversible. Some of the common severe incidents related to diabetes include eye damage, impotence, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and vascular inadequacy. This implies that no vessels in the body are immune to the external impacts of uncontrolled diabetes.
Diabetes mellitus is also the leading cause of hearing impairments and loss of Americans with diabetes. Recent statistics and studies have indicated that patients with diabetes have hearing impairments and loss as compared to those who don’t suffer from the disorder. Despite the limited availability of studies regarding the link between diabetes and hearing loss, the anatomy and physiology of the ear suggests that the condition can contribute to hearing-related changes and effects. Based on the findings of recent researches, approximately 16% i.e. 30 million Americans, have hearing loss (Agrawal, Platz & Niparko, 2009, p.139).
Hearing loss can be described as a disabling condition that is characterized by communication difficulties that impair cognitive and emotional functioning as well as the overall quality of life. Diabetes mellitus is among the various exposures and pathophysiologic incidents that generate hearing impairments and loss. The impact of diabetes on hearing is partly attributed to the anatomy and physiology of the ear and the fact that this condition is a microvascular disease with a broad spectrum pattern of hearing changes and loss. An evaluation of the anatomic dissection of all ear compartments demonstrate a rich network of vasculature, which are increasingly susceptible to the devastating effects of prolonged elevated blood sugar. The nephron of the kidney and stria vascularis of the cochea has similar antigenic, physiologic, and ultrastructural factors that make them vulnerable to the effects of elevated blood sugar, which is caused by diabetes.
Renal inadequacy and subsequent renal failure tends to take place in secondary to vasculopathy linked to unmanaged diabetes. Therefore, it can be concluded that similar changes in the cochlea can contribute to hearing impairments and even hearing loss in individuals suffering from diabetes. The likelihood of such impacts is attributed to the increased vulnerability of the cochlea to the huge effects of diabetes. Moreover, diabetes is a renowned risk factor and poor prognostic signal for unexpected sensorineural hearing impairments and loss. Diabetes mellitus also generate hearing-related changes through producing chronic and recalcitrant infections, which are symptoms of unmanaged diabetes.
Diabetes is accompanied by pathologic changes that damage the neural and the vasculature system of the inner ear and results in various kinds of hearing impairments and even hearing loss. Some of these pathologic changes include sclerosis of the inner auditory artery, atrophy of the spinal ganglion, demyelination of the eighth cranial nerve, and thickened capillaries of the stria vascularis (Bainbridge, Hoffman & Cowie, 2008, p.1). There are several characteristics related to hearing loss from diabetes including the fact that it is permanent and progressive. This kind of hearing loss or impairment is also bilateral (i.e. affects both ears), sensorineural impairment or changes, characterized by a gradual onset, and largely affect the higher frequencies.
How Diabetes is Changing the Hearing of Americans
Hearing impairments and loss is reported by over 17% of adults in the United States making it to become one of the major public health concerns that impacts over 36 million people. There are various factors attributed to the increase in hearing loss and impairment including diabetes mellitus. Diabetes mellitus is changing the hearing of many Americans since it affects approximately 9.6% of the United States population and generates microvascular and neuropathic complications that affect various systems of the body. Actually, diabetes changes the hearing of many Americans through its ability to affect the kidney, retina, and peripheral nerves and arteries (Bainbridge, Hoffman & Cowie, 2008, p.1).
The impact of hearing changes on Americans due to diabetes is evident across all age groups in the United States though the prevalence of hearing changes and hearing loss differs significantly on the basis of sex and race. Hearing loss brought by diabetes among Americans has been constantly increasing since 1958 as diabetic patients are twice as much likely to suffer from hearing impairments as compared to non-diabetic patients. Notably, the increased risk of Americans with diabetes to suffer from hearing impairments or hearing loss is regardless of the age of the diabetic patient (Helzner, 2014).
The most common categories of hearing loss that diabetic patients in America are likely to experience include conductive, sensorineural, and mixed categories. Conductive category entails temporary or permanent hearing changes to outer or middle ear whereas sensorineural category refers to relatively permanent hearing impairments on the cochlea and/or auditory nerve. The mixed hearing loss category refers to hearing changes that involve a mixture of conductive and sensorineural categories. The other categories of hearing loss include unilateral or bilateral, symmetrical or asymmetrical, sudden or gradual, and central processing disorders (Born, n.d.).
Statistics on Diabetic Hearing Loss in the United States
The link between diabetes and hearing loss or damage is an issue that has attracted considerable attention and debates for many decades, especially within the health care sector. Generally, the link between diabetes and hearing loss has attracted considerable attention among researchers given the limited availability of existing literature and studies on the topic. Actually, there is limited literature about the impact of diabetes on hearing loss or hearing impairments. Despite the limited existing literature, studies that have been carried out to examine the relationship between diabetes and hearing loss have generated different results regarding the existence of this link.
Based on the findings of their studies, some researchers have concluded that there is no link between hyperglycemia and hearing loss whereas majority of the existing literature demonstrate that the association between the two phenomena though the link is poorly defined (Kakarlapudi, Sawyer & Staecker, 2003, p.382). The association between diabetes and hearing loss is demonstrated by the evidence of neuropathic and microvascular complications of the condition and the multifaceted blood supply of the internal ear. Moreover, the findings of audiometric researches of hearing of diabetic patients demonstrate a mild to modest high-frequency sensorineural hearing loss. Therefore, it is quite clear that there is a strong link between diabetes and hearing loss and other hearing impairments.
Risk of Developing Diabetic Hearing Loss in the United States
Since every individual in the United States is vulnerable to diabetic, the risk of developing hearing damage or loss due to diabetics is high across every population group regardless of age, sex, and race. There have been numerous studies in the United States to examine the risk of developing a hearing damage because of diabetes. These studies have been carried out on various population groups on the basis of age, ethnicities, and sex. The use of these factors in conducting the research is geared towards determining the specific characteristics that contribute to diabetic hearing loss among various population groups.
Age plays an important factor in hearing damage brought by diabetes since older adults are already at risk of suffering from hearing loss. Based on the findings of a research conducted on 60 to 69-year-old, diabetic older adults are increasingly vulnerable to hearing damage as compared to children and young adults (Lin, 2011, p.1133). This is primarily because greater hearing impairments and hearing loss are distinctively linked to poorer cognitive functioning brought by old age. The findings of another study on hearing damage among Americans due to this disorder indicated that diabetic changes seem to reflect normal aging by stirring up accelerated negative health impacts. This has contributed to the emergence of age-related hearing loss for diabetics that is commonly known as presbycusis and regarded as the leading communication disorder for the aged population and among chronic conditions for the elderly.
Race or ethnicity has also been used as a major factor in examining the impact of diabetes on hearing damage in the United States. One of the studies used in this paper used ethnicity or race as classification for examining the effect diabetes has on hearing damage or loss through various groups i.e. Hispanics, African-American, and Mexican-American. While the study did not demonstrate any significant trends or differences in diabetic hearing loss, ethnicity plays a crucial role in the effect of diabetes on hearing (Agrawal, Platz & Niparko, 2009, p.141). This is mainly because different ethnicities and races are associated with certain demographical factors that impact their health. Based on these findings, diabetic African-Americans are at high risk of developing hearing damage due to various factors like heredity, economic background, and nutritional eating. On the other hand, sex does not have a major role in the effect of diabetes on hearing though diabetic men are at high risk of developing hearing damage compared to women.
Treatment of Hearing Impairments Brought By Diabetes
Living with the affects of diabetes and hearing loss is a devastating experience for many Americans suffering from diabetes because the condition can contribute to other serious health conditions. Actually, diabetic patients in America are increasingly vulnerable to having a hearing loss and impairment. Recent studies have indicated that diabetic patients have greater hearing loss as compared to those without (Austin et. al., 2009, p.1788). One of the major disadvantages of living with the effects of diabetes is the likelihood of developing hearing impairment or hearing loss due to the strong link between diabetes and hearing damage. Secondly, a diabetic patient with hearing damage is increasingly vulnerable to develop or increase the severity of other health conditions. For instance, diabetes increases the risk of blindness or visual impairment, damage to the nerves, kidney failure, reduced blood flow, and cardiovascular diseases and stroke (Helzner, 2014).
On the contrary, living with the affects of diabetes is also associated with some advantages including the prevention of metabolic-related problems. Frisina et. al. (2006), state that dietary restriction due to diabetes is beneficial because it slows down or prevents some metabolic-related problems (p.104). Moreover, the dietary restriction brought by the affects of living with diabetes help in preventing neurons from apoptosis and oxidative damage. However, the disadvantages of living with the effect of diabetes and hearing damage outweigh the advantages. Actually, these conditions contribute to abnormal physiological processes such as glycation and oxidation and fast-paced metabolic processes.
Since diabetes and the subsequent hearing loss have become major public health concerns in the United States, several treatment measures and methods have been developed to cure and prevent hearing impairments caused by diabetes. It is increasingly evident that diabetes and hearing loss amongst Americans can be prevented and treated through the use of these methods. The treatment of hearing loss brought by diabetes has involved the use of new and older technology to test and help in aiding diabetics with hearing damage. Health care professionals test hearing loss in diabetic patients through audiological testing and physical otoscopic examination. This process also entails conducting regular hearing screenings, especially among vulnerable population groups or individuals.
The process of preventing, treating, and lessening of hearing impairments of people with diabetics entails the use of medications and assistive hearing technology. The medications for preventing and lessening these impairments are provided by an audiologist who is a healthcare professional who provides various services related to treatment of hearing loss. This professional prescribes appropriate medication following a comprehensive diagnostic test and management of the auditory system. The medication is provided as part of treatment and rehabilitative services for auditory systems. However, the provision of these medications is based on various factors since some drugs can be ototoxic and result in more hearing damage.
Assistive hearing technology has been increasingly used in the recent past to lessen hearing impairments of patients with diabetes. The use of this technology has largely been influenced by the developments in digital technology and computer programming in the past 20 years. Assistive hearing technology has entailed the use of rehabilitative amplification i.e. hearing aids and related devices (Born, n.d.). Hearing aids have become crucial in preventing and lessening hearing impairments such as hearing loss of diabetic patients since they are no longer simple amplifiers but small computers with several adjustments to enhance hearing. These aids are individually developed and programmed on the basis of various factors including the patient’s age, severity of the hearing impairment, and hearing function. The treatment of hearing impairments of diabetic patients also involve treatment of diabetes based on individual factors and the type of diabetes.
In conclusion, diabetes has significantly increased in the recent past to an extent that it is a major public health concern throughout the world. This disease has considerable impacts on individuals including its contribution to hearing impairments and hearing loss among various groups despite age, sex, and ethnicity. Diabetes is changing the hearing of Americans and contributing to several health challenges. However, these hearing impairments and hearing loss can be treated through medication and assistive hearing technology.
Agrawal, Y., Platz, E.A. & Niparko, J.K. (2009). Risk Factors for Hearing Loss in U.S. Adults:
Data From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999 to 2002. Otology & Neurotology, 30, 139-145.
Austin et. al. (2009, September). Diabetes-Related Changes in Hearing. Laryngoscope, 119,
Bainbridge, K.E., Hoffman, H.J. & Cowie, C.C. (2008, July 1). Diabetes and Hearing
Impairment in the United States: Audiometric Evidence from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999 to 2004. Annals of Internal Medicine, 149(1), 1-10.
Born, M. (n.d.). Diabetes and Hearing Loss.
Frisina et. al. (2006). Characterization of Hearing Loss in Aged Type II Diabetics. Hearing Research, 211, 103-113.
Helzner, E.P. (2014). Hearing and Diabetes. Consensus.
Kakarlapudi, V., Sawyer, R. & Staecker, H. (2003). The Effect of Diabetes on Sensorineural
Hearing Loss. Otology & Neurotology, 24, 382-386.
Lin, F.R. (2011, October). Hearing Loss and Cognition Among Older Adults in the United
States. Journal of Gerontology, 66A (10), 1131-1136.
Parker, P. (n.d.). Diabetes and Hearing Loss. Audiology Practices, 2(4), 22-23.
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