Complications of Diabetes – Addressing Hearing Loss with Craig Kasper

Meet Craig Kasper.

Craig is a successful and intelligent audiologist practicing in New York City. He has a Master's degree from the University at Buffalo, a Doctorate from the University of Florida and completed his clinical fellowship at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in NYC.

Craig advocates living life as the healthiest version of yourself. He believes that, rather than allowing them to overcome us, we can use challenging circumstances for positive change.

Early Life

Craig grew up in Queens, NY during the 70s. As a kid, he played bass guitar in a hardcore punk band, and he was actively freestyle biking and skateboarding.

His world was music and sports. He credits lacrosse and skateboarding with teaching him determination and grit. These activities laid the foundation for him to explore approaching adversity with a positive mindset and finding ways to use difficult circumstances productively.

While working as a clinician at a prominent teaching hospital in 1999, Craig began experiencing radical changes in his health. After having a sudden hearing loss, he was put on an antibiotic and steroid (the standard treatment for hearing loss thought to be the result of a viral infection).

After a week of being on these medications, Craig noticed a black spot on his left eye. This proved to be central serous retinopathy, a leak under the retina sometimes seen in those with high-stress jobs.

Shortly after this, he started losing weight. Fast. He ended up losing 30 pounds in a four week period. He was eating everything in sight and was constantly drinking water, but his thirst was never satisfied.

Life is Normal. Then Diabetes Happens.

It wasn’t until he started having hallucinations on the way to work one day that Craig realized something was seriously wrong. One of his colleagues took a blood sample to try and narrow down what was going on.

Once the results were back, Craig was told to go to the ER immediately; his blood glucose reading was over 800 mg/dL!

All of these events led to Craig being diagnosed with diabetes. As he experienced the emotional and psychological impact that being diagnosed with a chronic illness can have, Craig began to consider how to use the situation for his own improvement.

How could he use this diagnosis to grow? How could he use diabetes to make his life better? How could he help others live their fullest life with diabetes?

It was during his week-long stay in the hospital, considering these questions and learning the basics of managing diabetes, that Craig began to develop the concept for his website and podcast The Bravest.

The focus of his podcast is on examining the successes of people with diabetes and inspiring people living with diabetes to have a positive impact on the world.

Diabetes and Hearing Disorders

Part of the change Craig Kasper pursues is helping the world to understand that a routine hearing exam is essential for those with diabetes. Auditory health should be regularly monitored to avoid unseen complications resulting from diabetes.

Individuals with diabetes are TWICE as likely to develop hearing loss, as compared with non-diabetic individuals.

This hearing loss occurs for the same reasons that kidney damage, peripheral neuropathy, and retinopathy do – the capillaries that supply the blood to these areas become damaged over time. Hearing loss can occur when blood flow to the cochlea is disrupted due to erratic or elevated blood glucose values.

Right now, Craig Kasper is one of the only people talking about the need to maintain awareness of the hearing health of individuals with diabetes.

To spread the word, Craig is launching The Diabetes Hearing Project to educate everyone from endocrinologists to patients concerning the critical need for regular hearing screenings for people with diabetes.

The Bravest Podcast

Inspired both by the constant questions he has about what he can do to improve his health and diabetes in the long term and by the foundational questions that he asked after being diagnosed, Craig decided to start a website and podcast called The Bravest.

The quest is to find out how he can be “better today than he was yesterday,” and Craig’s aim is to share what he finds with the world. He is passionate about learning how people overcome obstacles and seeks to empower other diabetics to be a changing force in their world.

The Bravest Podcast

The Mindfulness Connection

One of Craig Kasper’s goals is to help people translate knowledge into action. Helping people to apply themselves in making small, sustainable changes every day and actuate healthy living to be “the healthiest version of themselves” is only the first step.

Helping people to understand how to make an impact on the world around them is the end goal. An excellent point Craig makes is that “if we’re not healthy, we can’t do great things in the world.”

Craig's journey in mindfulness started during graduate school. The stressful days led him to seek periods of quiet contemplation. He returned to this practice after his diagnosis with diabetes, making a conscious effort to reduce his stress levels.

Mindfulness practice, or meditation, fed directly into his ability to manage his diabetes, and Craig still finds that getting 15 minutes of mindfulness practice each day helps to regulate his blood glucose levels.

The science behind mindfulness and the physiological changes that can take place in response to mindfulness practice continue to fascinate Craig.

As our cortisol levels rise, our bodies enter into a “fight or flight” response. Whether traffic, financial troubles, or having a chronic illness cause this stress, the response is the same: our bodies pour glucose into the bloodstream to prepare for immediate action.

Taking the time to “create space” and reduce this stress load is crucial for achieving better health.

Practicing Mindfulness

The benefits of mindfulness are profound. Craig recommends beginning by taking 5 minutes every morning to focus on breathing. He points out that this can be done during the morning commute, or while drinking your coffee. The objective is to take a moment and engage in the activity mindfully, without reacting to your environment.

The most important aspect of this practice is work on translating your mindfulness practice into your daily life.

Be sure to put your phone down anytime you are practicing mindfulness. Phones introduce significant stress into our lives, and taking some time away from them can help to reduce our stress load overall. It is equally important to turn them off or keep them in a different room during the night to improve sleep quality.

Tips From Craig on How to Turn Diabetes Into A Positive Aspect of Your Daily Life

“Try not to look at the diagnosis of diabetes as a life sentence. A lot of folks will take a look at any chronic illness as being trapped, to a certain extent. There is true opportunity in there. There is an opportunity to be a better version of ourselves than if we might have been if we were not diagnosed with diabetes.”

Follow Craig!

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On Instagram​ as Craig Kasper

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About the Author

Cyrus Khambatta earned a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from UC Berkeley after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in his senior year of college at Stanford University in 2002. He is an internationally recognized nutrition and fitness coach for people living with type 1, type 1.5, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, and has helped hundreds of people around the world achieve exceptional insulin sensitivity by adopting low-fat, plant-based whole foods nutrition.