With the growth in obesity, Type II Diabetes is steadily becoming more prevalent. According to the IDF Diabetes Atlas, diabetes is estimated to increase by 55% on a global level by 2035.

Diabetic patients are more than twice as likely to have a hearing loss compared to non-diabetics, regardless of age. Even though it is clear that hearing loss is a complication of diabetes, a hearing evaluation is often not recognized as a necessary referral when a patient is diagnosed with diabetes. Patients with diabetes do not receive treatment for their hearing loss as often as individuals without diabetes.

There are also twenty medications used to treat diabetes that can affect hearing and/or balance. The CDC has recognized and is including an audiological exam by an Audiologist as part of continuing care as of 2018.

When patients are diagnosed with diabetes, they should have a hearing evaluation performed by an Audiologist. It is also important that they have hearing evaluated annually, even if they had normal hearing initially because diabetic patients often have progressive hearing loss.

Diabetes can cause structural changes in the cochlea that result from microvascular changes. These microvascular changes also lead to nephropathy and retinopathy (numbness in extremities and vision problems). Type II Diabetics can have more changes in the inner ear than Type I and should be monitored annually.

It is essential that patients with diabetes have regular evaluations and are fit with hearing aids if they do have a loss. Hearing aids are important because untreated hearing loss leads to a higher incidence of dementia, depression, and social isolation. Patients that have been fit with hearing aids report benefits such as reduced frustration, less anxiety and depression, and better interpersonal relationships (National Council on Aging 1999).

For more information about diabetes-related hearing loss and/or hearing aids please contact Oro Valley Audiology, Inc by phone: (520) 825-4770 or email: orovalley@hearintucson.wpengine.com

Bainbridge, K. et al (2008) Diabetes and hearing impairment in the US: Audiometric evidence from the national health and nutrition
examination survey, 1999 to 2004. Annals of Medicine. 149, 1, 1-10. 2.
Cheng, Y. J., Gregg, E. W., Saaddine, J. B., Imperatore, G., Zhang, X., & Albright, A. L. (2009). Three decade change in the prevalence of hearing
impairment and its association with diabetes in the United States. Preventive Medicine, 49(5), 360–364.
Disogra, R. M., & Meece, J. (2019). Auditory and Vestibular Side Effects of FDA-Approved Drugs for Diabetes. Seminars in Hearing, 40(04), 315-326.
Hendricks, J. et al (2006). Progressive sensorineural hearing impairment in maternally inherited diabetes mellitus and deafness (MIDD). Otology
Neurotology. 27, 6, 802-808. 3.
1 Horikawa, C., Kodama, S., et al. Diabetes and risk of hearing impairment in adults: a meta-analysis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013; 98: 51–58
Kariya, S., Cureoglu, S., et al. Comparing the cochlear spiral modiolar artery in type-1 and type-2 diabetes mellitus: a human temporal bone
study. Acta Med Okayama. 2010; 64 (6): 375-383
Lin F. et al (2011). Hearing loss prevalence and risk factors among older adults in the United States. Journal of Gerontology. 66A, 5, 582-590. 5. The consequences of untreated hearing loss in adults. May, 1999. National Council on Aging. White paper.

Leave a Reply