Chamber Blog

Hearing Loss Linked To Diabetes

September 19, 2018 | Beltone Hearing Center

More than 17 percent of the U.S. adult population (36 million people) have a hearing loss, including an estimated 30 percent of the U.S. population over 65 years of age. Risk for hearing impairment is most strongly associated with men who have an industrial or military background and leisure-time noise exposure. However, hearing loss has been linked with several environmental factors and health conditions – or co-morbidities – that can impede everyday physical ability and social interaction, such as dementia, Lyme disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes. Nearly 10 percent of the U.S. adult population have diabetes, which has been associated with complications of the retinas, kidneys, and the arteries and nerves in the arms and legs.

Other changes that have been known to occur in the bodies of those with diabetes, include a hardening of the internal auditory artery and damage or atrophy to nerves associated with auditory centers in the brain. These detrimental effects on the auditory system led to a national survey study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics*, which aimed to collect data regarding the relationship between hearing loss and diabetes. From 1999 to 2004, a total of 5,140 participants aged 20 to 69 were evaluated, with the resulting data showing a clear connection that changes caused by diabetes could injure the tiny arteries and nerves in the inner ear, causing permanent hearing damage (defined as an impairment of 25 dB or more).

On average, the results indicated that those with diabetes were 28 percent more likely to have a hearing loss of mild or greater severity. Strong associations between diabetes and high-frequency hearing loss – frequencies greater than 2,000 Hz, where often women’s and children’s voices fall – will eventually affect more than just the straight forward hearing of adults, but can negatively impact relations and social interactions.

Knowing the risks associated with hearing loss and diabetes will help ourselves and our loved ones live a happier and healthier life, by regularly seeing your physician and having an annual hearing test performed. We at Beltone look forward to doing our part.

Through educating our Louisville community about hearing loss-associated health risks and how to mitigate them, we continue to uphold the principle of helping our neighbors that started Beltone more than 78 years ago, by helping millions reconnect with their friends and loved ones through award-winning technology for the modern patient.

Remember, early detection can reduce the risk of increased hearing loss. Schedule an appointment to learn more about your hearing health. Our licensed hearing health professional will perform a complimentary hearing screening and discuss the options available to you.


*Bainbridge KE, Cowie CC, Hoffman HJ. Diabetes and Hearing Impairment in the United States: Audiometric Evidence from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999 to 2004. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2008; 149(1): 1-10.