Diabetics twice as likely to suffer hearing loss

American study confirmed that hearing loss is more prevalent among adult diabetics than in the general population.

A major national American study has confirmed the correlation between diabetes and hearing loss that several earlier minor isolated studies have pointed towards. The new study found that hearing loss is about twice as prevalent among diabetics as in the general population.

Based on this 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 under-recognized complication of diabetes. Diabetes often damages inner ear nerves and blood vessels. This is seen as the likely cause of the increased prevalence of hearing loss.

Findings apply to all adult diabetics

The study, carried out by the National Institutes of Health, included 5,140 individuals aged between 20 and 69 years. Almost one in 10 was a diabetic.

Among those suffering from diabetes 21 percent were found to have hearing loss in low and mid-range frequencies, as compared to just 9 percent of the non-diabetics. 54 percent of the diabetics had trouble hearing high frequency sounds, as compared to 32 percent of the non-diabetics.

The data was adjusted for age-related hearing loss and apply 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.

Source: Annals of Internal Medicine, volume 149, number 1.

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