Is there a link between diabetes and loss of hearing?

by Barbara Hewitt on December 5, 2012

Is there a link between diabetes and loss of hearing?

Further evidence is emerging that there is a link between diabetes and hearing loss with a new study finding that those with the condition are more likely to have a hearing impairment. A review of past research on hearing in diabetics published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, has found that younger diabetics were at even higher risk than older adults but it is so far unclear why this is.

The researchers added that future studies should take more factors into account, such as noise environment and concluded that people with diabetes should be screened for hearing loss at an earlier age than people who do not have diabetes. ‘Current meta-analysis suggests that the higher prevalence of hearing impairment in diabetic patients compared with nondiabetic patients was consistent regardless of age,’ said lead researcher Chika Horikawa of Niigata University Faculty of Medicine.

This research report adds to the finding of a US National Institutes of Health study in 2008 which also found a link between diabetes and hearing loss.  It found similar patterns in a sample of more than 11,000 people and concluded that diabetes sufferers are twice as likely to have hearing loss as those without.

It is believed that high blood sugar levels brought on by diabetes may lead to hearing loss by damaging blood vessels in the ears. This is according to the Japanese study which collected information from 13 previous studies examining the link between diabetes and hearing loss, published between 1977 and 2011.

Comment from DiabetesForum.com : “I have been type 1 for 66 years, and am 72 years old. There is nerve damage in my ears, so I have some hearing loss. I know several people with service dogs that can detect highs and lows. Some of these people say that their diabetes alert dogs (DADs) are much better than a CGMS.”

Overall the Japanese research covered 7,377 diabetics and 12,817 people without the condition and found that diabetics were 2.15 times as likely as people without the disease to have hearing loss. However, when the results were broken down by age, people aged under 60 had 2.61 times the risk while people over 60 hand 1.58 times higher risk.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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