Using test results that measure participants’ ability to hear at the low, mid and high-frequencies in both ears, indicated a link between diabetes and hearing loss at all frequencies, with a somewhat stronger association in the high-frequency range. Mild or worse hearing of low or mid frequency sounds was about 21 percent in 399 adults with diabetes compared to about nine percent in 4,741 adults without. Mild or greater hearing impairment at high frequencies was 54 percent in those with diabetes compared to 32 percent in those without.
Another significant study examined hearing data from participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1999 and 2004. Of the more than 5,000 individuals who took part, hearing loss appeared in 15% of those without diabetes and more than 30% in those diagnosed with diabetes. The research team’s report concluded that screening for hearing loss would allow for early medical intervention that could improve hearing for adults living with diabetes.
“Diabetics (are) 2.15 times as likely as people without the disease to have hearing loss…broken down by age, people under 60 had 2.61 times the risk while people over 60 had 1.58 times higher risk.”
Studies of diabetic patients have shown evidence that diabetes may lead to sensorineural hearing loss by damaging the nerves and blood vessels of the inner ear due to the pathologic changes that are associated with the condition. It appears the damage is more common in those with Type 2 diabetes.
“It is possible that diabetic patients can have normal or near-normal hearing at the time of the initial identification of diabetes, only to suffer from a progressive form of sensorineural hearing loss.”
Having your hearing tested is important beyond identifying the hearing loss itself – it could be an early indicator of the onset of diabetes or other cardiovascular conditions. If you are suffering from any suspected or known hearing loss, speak to your GP. If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, we recommend you have your hearing tested annually to ensure you are protecting your hearing. The earlier hearing loss is diagnosed, the more effective the treatment options.
1 National Institutes of Health News. Hearing Loss is Common in People with Diabetes. 2008 (http:// www.nih.gov/news/health/jun2008/ niddk-16.htm)
2 Fox News.com. Diabetes may be linked to hearing loss, study finds. 2012 (http://www.foxnews. com/health/2012/12/03/diabetes-may-be-linked-to-hearing-loss-study-finds/)
3 Hendricks, J. et al (2006). Progressive sensorineural hearing impairment in maternally inherited diabetes mellitus and deafness (MIDD). Otology Neurotology.27 , 6, 802-808.
4 National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Annals of Internal Medicine. 2008
5 Annals of Internal Medicine. NIH Public Access. Diabetes and Hearing Impairment in the United States: Audiometric Evidence from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, 1999- 2004. Kathleen E. Bainbridge, PhD, et al. 2008.