People with diabetes or pre-diabetes appear to have a greater incidence of hearing loss than those without these conditions. Diabetes is a disease that affects how the body uses glucose, a sugar that is a source of fuel. Pre-diabetes (elevated blood glucose levels) is a condition that can precede diabetes. People with diabetes and pre-diabetes have too much glucose in their bloodstream, which can lead to health complications, including heart disease, stroke, blindness, nerve damage, and kidney failure. Now, hearing loss can be added to the list of health risks.
Researchers found that hearing loss is twice as common for people with diabetes than those without diabetes. Even people with pre-diabetes had a 30% higher risk of hearing loss than those with normal blood glucose levels. Hearing loss was more pronounced for sounds in higher frequencies than low and middle ranges. Diabetes related hearing loss appears to occur as early as ages 30 to 40. The researchers from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) that conducted the study state that hearing loss may develop from damaged nerves or blood vessels in the inner ear as a result of diabetes. They suggest that people with diabetes receive a comprehensive hearing examination.