A major national American study has confirmed the correlation between diabetes and hearing loss that several earlier minor isolated studies have pointed toward. The new study found that hearing loss is about twice as prevalent among diabetics as in the general population.
Based on the finding, the researchers behind the study believe that diabetes is a clear risk factor for hearing loss and that hearing loss until now has been an underrecognized complication of diabetes. Diabetes often damages inner ear nerves and blood vessels, which is seen as the likely cause of the increased prevalence of hearing loss.
The study, carried out by the National Institutes of Health, included 5,140 individuals between 20 and 69 years of age. Almost one in 10 was a diabetic.
Among those suffering from diabetes, 21% were found to have hearing loss in low and mid-range frequencies, compared to 9% of the nondiabetics. Some 54% of the diabetics had trouble hearing high-frequency sounds, compared to 32% of the nondiabetics.
The data was adjusted for age-related hearing loss and applies to adult diabetics regardless of gender, ethnic background, education, or income.
As a consequence of the close correlation between hearing loss and diabetes, the researchers recommended routine hearing screening of all diabetics.