To evaluate the association of NIDDM with hearing loss in a large population-based study.
Data from population-based longitudinal studies of aging conducted in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, were used in these analyses. Hearing thresholds were determined by pure-tone air- and bone-conduction audiometry performed by trained technicians following American Speech-Language-Hearing Association specifications. Hearing loss was defined as the pure-tone average of the frequencies 500, 1,000, 2,000, and 4,000 Hz > 25 decibels hearing level in the worse ear. Diabetes status was determined by self-report of physician-diagnosed diabetes or by elevated glucose or glycated hemoglobin levels at examination.
Of 3,571 study participants, 344 were classified as having NIDDM. Subjects with NIDDM were more likely to have a hearing loss than were subjects without diabetes (59 vs. 44%). After results were adjusted for age, this difference was not statistically significant. After individuals with hearing loss patterns inconsistent with presbycusis were excluded, there was an association between NIDDM and hearing loss when controlling for potential confounders (odds ratio [OR] 1.41, 95% CI 1.05–1.88). There was no association between duration of diabetes or glycemic control and hearing loss. Individuals with NIDDM and nephropathy were more likely to have a hearing loss than were those with NIDDM but no nephropathy (OR 2.28, 95% CI 1.04–5.00).
These data are suggestive of a weak association between NIDDM and hearing loss.