Diabetes & Hearing Loss: 5 Important Facts

  1. There is a proven link between diabetes and hearing loss in adults over the age of 60.  The same microvascular changes which often lead to nephropathy and retinopathy in diabetic patients, can lead to damage tot he microstructures of the cochlea. One recent peer reviewed survey indicates that 21% of people with diabetes also have hearing loss, compared to 9% of non-diabetic adults. For diabetic patients over the age of 60, the prevalence of high frequency hearing loss rose to 54%, compared to 32% of non-diabetic adults of similar age.
  2. Diabetic patients should have their hearing screened when identified with diabetes.  Given the relationship between diabetes and hearing loss, patients who are identified as diabetic should have their hearing screened by a licensed audiologist. earlier identification of hearing loss often leads to more successful remediation strategies and better patient outcomes.
  3. Diabetic patients may have a progressive hearing loss.  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. Therefore, people with diabetes should have their hearing tested regularly.
  4. Hearing loss of adult onset often contributes to social isolation, cognitive loss and depression.  Studies indicate that adults with mild to moderate-severe hearing loss are more likely to suffer the effects of social isolation and withdrawal, including depression and cognitive deficits.
  5. Auditory rehabilitation, including hearing aids, may help.  A peer-reviewed study conducted by the National Council on Aging of over 2000 participants with hearing loss provides evidence of the benefits of hearing aids, including improved overall health, better interpersonal relationships and a reduction in frustration, anxiety and depression. An audiologist is trained to provide a comprehensive solution to hearing impair, including the provision of hearing aids, if necessary. The evidence suggests diabetic patients need to have their hearing screened annually. Please have your hearing checked if you have been diagnosed with diabetes.

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