Hearing impairment linked to type 2 diabetes

It is estimated that nearly 30 million people (or, 9.3 percent of the population) in the United States have diabetes. And previously, it was not known if diabetes is related to hearing loss although study showed it is twice as common in people with diabetes as it is in those without the disease. But now a review of studies of possible linkages between type 2 diabetes and hearing impairment by researchers at SUNY Downstate Medical Center concluded that there is compelling evidence that diabetes can damage the auditory system.

“An association between diabetes and hearing impairment in human subjects has been shown in many, but not all, studies. Direct comparison of these studies is complicated due to a lack of consistency in defining hearing impairment and other factors.” said Elizabeth Helzner, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the School of Public Health, in a news release.

“However, the association between diabetes and hearing impairment tends to be stronger in studies that included younger participants, perhaps because in older samples, other causes of age-related hearing impairment may mask the contribution of diabetes to the impairment. This factor in itself lends weight to the notion that type 2 diabetes can damage hearing.”

Further studies are needed to be carried out in order to investigate whether patients with diabetes are at higher risk of early-onset hearing impairment, and whether the progression of the impairment varies based on diabetes status.

The findings of the study were published in the journal, Current Diabetes Reports.