According to a recent study that was funded by NIH, National Institute of Health, adults with diabetes have twice as high probability to suffer from hearing loss compared to others. (National Institute of Health NIH), (American Diabetes Association , 2014)
The senior author of this research study, Catherine Cowie, who works for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), stated that hearing loss might be a complication of diabetes which is left under recognized by most. She shared her judgment that people who suffer from diabetes, should plan to get a hearing test. (National Institute of Health NIH)
She asserted that her research revealed a strong link between diabetes and hearing impairment that stems from the use of a variety of outcomes. Not only is hearing loss found more readily in diabetic patients, but the disease also presents other limitations like affecting the speech understanding ability of an individual. It stems from problems in hearing, which affects the ability to comprehend speech as well.
Study Details And Outcomes
The study revealed that a significant number of researchers found high rates of hearing loss in diabetic patients. The results were given for a sample of the population on whom the nationally representative study was conducted.
The tests conducted included the ability of the different participants to easily decipher middle, low and different high frequency sounds in both the ears. The study results revealed a direct and strong link between diabetes and hearing loss, which was found to be consistently evident across all the different frequencies. The link was found to be quite strong in association when it came to testing the high frequency ranges.
Statistical details showed a trend in which any mild or high level hearing impairment for the low or the mid frequency sounds, was estimated to be about 21% in the weakest ears of around 399 adults who were reported to have diabetes. This is seen as a stark contrast to the 9% recorded in a total of 4,471 adults who had no history of suffering from diabetes.
In the case of high frequency sounds, calculated for different mild or greater hearing impairments, in the weakest ears of the sample candidates, around 54% were found to have a diabetic history. This was again in sharp contrast to the 32% sample candidates who did not suffer from the disease.
Adults who were found to have pre-diabetes symptoms, that is a blood glucose higher than the normal one, yet not high enough to be classified as being indicative of diabetes; displayed a 30% higher chance of suffering from hearing loss. This was found in comparison with those individuals who were found to have normal blood sugars that were tested after an overnight fast. (National Institute of Health NIH), (American Diabetes Association , 2014)
The speech understanding ability is also challenged in hearing loss diabetic patients, as they feel that others are mumbling or not speaking clearly. The inability to hear properly inhibits and hinders their ability for speech comprehension.
Research is underway to determine the reason for the connection of diabetes with hearing loss. Researchers believe that the reason for the strong link between both conditions might be due to the damage caused to the nerves and blood vessels in the inner ear. The autopsy studies conducted on diabetic patients have given evidence of such damages. (National Institute of Health NIH)
American Diabetes Association . (2014, June). Diabetes and Hearing Loss. Retrieved April 2015, from American Diabetes Association : http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/seniors/diabetes-and-hearing-loss.html
National Institute of Health NIH. Hearing Loss is Common in People with Diabetes. NIH. http://www.nih.gov/news/health/jun2008/niddk-16.htm