By Kathryn Dowd, AuD, Executive Director of the Audiology Project
Hearing loss is an invisible problem. In a one-on-one meeting in a quiet exam room, the person with diabetes may appear to hear everything. However, underlying diabetes-related neuropathy may be affecting the individual’s ability to hear and understand your guidance. Since the hearing mechanism and vestibular mechanism are hard wired by the VIII cranial nerve, both hearing and balance can be affected by diabetes and related neuropathies. In addition to vestibular balance issue, the loss of vision and foot neuropathy heighten the risk of falls for people with diabetes (PWD).
Screening and referring people with diabetes (PWD) experiencing hearing and balance issues will help your diabetes education outcomes.
The PWD with treatment for hearing loss will be able to:
Follow the recommendations to a higher degree since they can hear and understand them.
Improve health outcomes as they follow the recommendations for managing A1C.
Enjoy a better quality of life overall.
The PWD with treatment for balance problems will be able to:
CDC has published new guidance for diabetes healthcare professionals to address this silent epidemic of hearing loss and risk of falls in PWD. Access the five actions CDC recommends to healthcare teams who want to promote ear health for PWD. Additional guidance for PWD can be found on CDC’s Diabetes and Hearing Loss and Take Charge of Your Diabetes: Healthy Ears webpages.
Many resources and tools are also available to help you get started with screening and referrals immediately. Diabetes care and education specialists can use the following tools to identify patients who may be at risk.
If you are interested in learning more about this topic, you’re invited to hear audiologists Dr. Kathy Dowd and Roni Dinkes from The Audiology Project presenting “Invisible Hearing Loss/Risk of Falls in Diabetes Care” at ADCES22, taking place August 12 to 15 in Baltimore, Maryland. You can also tune in to The Huddle podcast to learn about this risk and sign up from newsletters from TAP at theaudiologyproject.com.
ADCES Perspectives on Diabetes Care
The Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists Perspectives on Diabetes Care covers diabetes, prediabetes and other cardiometabolic conditions. Not all views expressed reflect the official position of the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists.
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