Hearing loss is about 2 times as common in adults with diabetes than those who do not have diabetes, according to a 2008 National Institutes of Health study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The study showed increased hearing loss across all frequencies, with the strongest association in the higher frequencies. Additionally, adults with pre-diabetes had a 30% higher rate of hearing loss compared with those with normal blood sugar levels. This was reported to be the first study with a nationally representative sample of working adults, aged 20-69 years old. The association between diabetes and hearing loss was found as early as ages 30-40. Autopsies of diabetes patients have shown evidence of damage to the nerves and blood vessels of the inner ear. Diabetes is known to affect nearly 21 million adults in the U.S. and is a major cause of stroke and heart disease. It is also the most common cause of kidney failure, blindness, and amputation of lower limbs. Pre-diabetes, which has no symptoms, affects 54 million adults in the U.S. and also raises the risk of stroke or heart attack.
Approximately 43% of patients with diabetes have hearing loss, according to the American Diabetics Association (ADA). Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit have released data that pre-diabetic adults have a much higher rate of hearing loss, especially in the high frequencies, compared with those who have normal blood sugar levels.
Bainbridge, K., Hoffman, H., & Cowie, C. (2008). Diabetes and hearing impairment in the United States: Audiometric evidence from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999-2004. Annals of Internal Medicine; 149(1):1-10, doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-149-1-200807010-00231.
Sone, H., & Parker, P. (2011). 71st Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association, San Diego, CA, June 24-28, 2011.