Hearing Loss

Diabetes and Hearing Loss

Diabetics at greater risk for hearing loss

People with diabetes are usually aware of their increased risk of kidney, cardiovascular, and visual disorders. However, most diabetics don’t know they are more than twice as likely to have hearing loss as those without the disease. And the risk is greater among younger diabetics than older.

Younger diabetics at greater risk

A recent study in Japan was published in Nov. 2012 in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Led by Chika Horikawa, the team examined data from 13 previous studies published between 1977 and 2011. Their conclusion? Not only were diabetics 2.15 times as likely as others to have hearing loss, but those under age 60 had 2.61 times the risk while those over 60 had 1.58. In a related study by the National Institutes of Health, it was shown that more than 40% of people with diabetes had some degree of hearing loss.

Link between diabetes and hearing loss

The link between diabetes and hearing loss is not yet fully understood. Some think that high blood sugar levels may damage the blood vessels in the ears. Others caution that certain medications commonly used by diabetic patients, such as diuretics, may be a contributing factor. Though more research is needed in order to understand the connection between diabetes and hearing loss, according to Horikawa, “these results propose that diabetic patients are screened for hearing impairment from an earlier age compared with nondiabetics,” particularly because untreated hearing loss is associated with an increased risk of dementia and depression. For more information regarding diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association website.

Hearing Aids

Relief from Loud TV Commercials

Loud commercials worse for hearing aid users

We have all experienced it: the sudden increase in loudness that some TV commercials have over the program being watched. For people with normal hearing, the change in volume is primarily annoying. For hearing aid users, that same change in loudness may be uncomfortable or even painful.

The CALM Act

Now, with new regulations recently enacted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), such irksome volume swells may be a thing of the past. On Dec. 13, 2012, the FCC put into effect its Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act. This legislation is intended to require commercials aired on television to have the same average volume as the programs they accompany.

Most hearing aids have noise reduction circuits

While most hearing aids manufactured in the last 10 years have noise reduction circuits that prevent the hearing aid from over amplifying sudden loud sounds, the increase in the volume for commercials can still be unpleasant. As an audiologist since 1979, this has been a common complaint of many of my hearing aid patients.

Report violators to FCC

Hopefully, this new policy will provide relief for hearing aid wearers (and everybody else!) who have long sought relief from those blaring TV ads. If it doesn’t, the following link explains how you can report violators of the new commercial calming rules directly to the FCC: