Feb 13, 2012
Diabetics Are Twice as Likely to Have Hearing Loss: HearUSA Centers Offer Free Hearing Screenings
A landmark study funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that adults with diabetes are about twice as likely to have hearing loss as those who do not have diabetes. Based on the findings of the study, five million Americans living with diabetes also have hearing loss that, in many cases, remains undetected and untreated.
The study analyzed the results of hearing tests given to a nationally representative sample of U.S adults. The tests measured participants’ ability to hear low-, middle -, and high-frequency sounds in both ears. The study’s conclusion: “Hearing impairment is common in adults with diabetes, and diabetes seems to be an independent risk factor for the condition.”
The study linking diabetes and hearing loss was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. In its editorial, the publication said, “In many cases of mild to moderate hearing loss, patients are not aware of what they cannot hear; thus, screening for hearing loss in individuals at risk could lead to interventions that would affect their ability to communicate, their productivity and their safety.” NIH investigators recommended that all patients with diabetes be screened for hearing loss.
The senior author of the study said, “As diabetes becomes more common, the disease may become a more significant contributor to hearing loss.” Untreated hearing loss is serious: Studies have linked untreated hearing loss to stress and depression, avoidance of social situations, reduced job performance and earning power, diminished psychological and overall health and increased risk to personal safety.
Researchers suggest diabetes damages the nerves and blood vessels of the inner ear resulting in hearing loss and vestibular disturbances, such as impaired balance and gait. The Better Hearing Institute notes that those who have difficulty hearing can experience such distorted and incomplete communication that it seriously impacts their professional and personal lives, at times leading to isolation and withdrawal.
“Hearing loss affects virtually every aspect of a person’s life, making it all the harder for people with diabetes to cope with their disease,” said Sergei Kochkin, executive director of the Better Hearing Institute. “A hearing check is invaluable in determining whether or not someone with diabetes does have a hearing loss and will help to ensure that they get the treatment they need.
Annual hearing screenings for diabetic patients could lead to intervention that would improve communication, productivity, safety and quality of life. Call HearUSA at 1-800-442-8231 to schedule a private appointment.