Hearing loss is the most common loss of the five special senses in the human population. Nearly one out of four Americans 12 years or older has some type of hearing loss. Your spouse or kids may have to shout at you or stand directly in front of you so you can hear and understand what is being said. Perhaps you notice that certain sounds are harder to hear as you strain to make out specific words. Hearing loss commonly happens with age, but it correlates with many factors including metabolic syndrome and obesity. This relationship to obesity and metabolic syndrome occurs at any age and impacts young and old alike. It knows no boundaries.
Hearing is gift that we often take for granted until it starts slipping away. If you want to hear the sound of your loved ones voices, birds singing, warning sirens and other sounds of life, it is vital to keep a healthy weight and metabolism. Here some recent findings on hearing loss related to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, adiponectin, and childhood obesity.
Metabolic Syndrome and Hearing Loss
Metabolic syndrome is group of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and even cancer. It is also considered a substantial risk factor for hearing loss. There are five components that identify the presence of metabolic syndrome – increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, belly fat or excess body fat around the waist, and elevated cholesterol or triglycerides. The diagnosis is made if three or more components are present.
• Obesity: Waist Circumference: Men: > 40 inches. Women: >35 inches
• Elevated Blood Sugar: Fasting glucose greater or equal to 100 mg/dl or more with or without prescription.
• Triglycerides: Greater than 150 mg/dl with or without prescription.
• HDL cholesterol: Men: less than 40 mg/dl. Women: less than 50 mg/dl with or without prescription.
• High blood pressure: systolic (top number) greater than 130, diastolic (bottom number) greater than 85 with or without prescription.
Limited research suggests that the greatest association with hearing loss and metabolic syndrome is linked primarily with low HDL levels. Noise trauma worsens the risk of hearing loss in people with metabolic syndrome.
Diabetes and Hearing Loss
Individuals with elevated blood sugar without metabolic syndrome are also at high risk for hearing loss. A 2019 study with the Association of Otolaryngologists (ear-throat physicians) of India compared 50 diabetic patients to 50 non-diabetic patients.
Of the 50 diabetic patients, profound hearing loss was more common in those with a fasting blood sugar greater than 200. If random blood sugars were greater than 300, severe and profound hearing loss was evident. Those who had a longer history of diabetes had greater hearing loss. Almost half of the diabetic patients tested had moderate to severe hearing loss, whereas only 26 percent of the diabetics had normal hearing.