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Withdrawal from social situations, a lessened ability to cope, and reduced overall psychological health are just some of the conditions associated with unaddressed hearing loss. Often, people with untreated hearing loss feel angry, frustrated, anxious, isolated, and depressed.
The good news is that for the vast majority of people with hearing loss, hearing aids can help. In fact, research shows that most people with hearing loss who use hearing aids see improvements in their ability to communicate effectively in most situations. When people with hearing loss use hearing aids, their mental health often rallies and depressive symptoms are often reduced. Many people regain emotional stability; have an easier time joining in groups and become more socially engaged; experience a greater sense of safety and independence; feel more in control of their lives; and see a general improvement in their overall quality of life.
Many even report improvements in their relationships at home and at work. And many say they feel better about themselves and life overall as a result. Getting a hearing test and using professionally fitted hearing aids—when recommended by a hearing healthcare professional—is an important way for people with hearing loss to ease the stress associated with intensive listening and to safeguard their mental health and quality of life.
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Yet hearing tests are frequently overlooked in routine diabetes care. In fact, some experts believe that hearing loss may be an under-recognized complication of diabetes. A meta-analysis of 13 different studies found that younger people with diabetes were at an even greater risk of hearing loss. Those with diabetes who were older than 60 were 1. But the risk jumped to 2. Another study, by researchers at Henry Ford Hospital, found that women between the ages of 60 and 75 with well-controlled diabetes had better hearing than women whose diabetes was poorly controlled, shedding light on the importance of keeping diabetes under control to maintain healthy hearing.
Still another study, of patients from a large primary care clinic in the United Kingdom, found that hearing loss is prevalent among people with diabetes and has a strong association with peripheral neuropathy. The hearing loss group in that study had almost twice the rate of at-risk feet.
BHI strongly encourages people with diabetes to include regular hearing tests as part of their routine diabetes care.
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Anyone can take the confidential online survey to determine if they need a comprehensive hearing test by a hearing healthcare professional. Research shows that when people address hearing loss, their quality of life often improves. The researchers assessed more than 2, people aged 50 and older, including with moderate CKD. Nearly 30 percent of the CKD participants showed severe hearing loss compared with only 10 percent of the non-CKD participants. According to study author, David C. Harris, structural and functional similarities between tissues in the inner ear and in the kidney may explain the link between moderate chronic kidney disease and hearing loss.
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March is National Kidney Month. Addressing hearing loss can add to quality of life in many ways. And let us be the first to congratulate you on your motivation and determination. The signs of hearing loss can be subtle and emerge slowly, or they can be significant and come on suddenly.