by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
If you have diabetes, you are twice as likely to develop hearing loss as you would be if you’d not had diabetes according to Catherine Cowie, PhD, the director of the diabetes epidemiology program at the National Institutes of Health.
Hearing loss from diabetes affects all speech frequencies, but is more pronounced in the higher frequencies. For example, in her study, Dr. Cowie found that 32% of diabetics had low-frequency hearing loss (15% for non-diabetics), while 57% of diabetics had high-frequency hearing loss (36% for non-diabetics).
This increased hearing loss could be the result of either changes in the circulatory system resulting in less blood flow to the peripheral blood vessels (which includes the tiny arteries in the inner ear), or changes in the nervous system—typically death to some nerve endings (which also includes the hair cells [technically the auditory nerve endings] in the inner ear).
Therefore, if you have diabetes, it sure wouldn’t hurt to have regular audiograms done every year or two so you can keep tabs on your hearing. If you are losing significant hearing, then you can get hearing aids before hearing loss sneaks up on you and negatively impacts your life.
(Extracted from: Diabetes and Hearing Impairment: Audiometric Evidence From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999-2004. Abstract 991-P).