The researchers suggest people with diabetes should be routinely screened for hearing problems so that those affected can be offered hearing aids.
Dr Kathleen E. Bainbridge at Social and Scientific Systems in Silver Spring, Maryland, and others evaluated data on 5 140 individuals 20 to 69 years of age who underwent a hearing test in the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
In all, 399 of the participants reported having been diagnosed with diabetes, and 587 subjects were hearing impaired, the team reports in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Read: Diabetic patients have higher risk of hearing impairment
They found that 21 percent in the diabetes group and 9 percent in the non-diabetes group had reduced hearing at low and mid frequencies; the pattern was similar for high frequencies (54 percent vs 32 percent).
Read: Diabetes linked to hearing loss
"The prevalence of hearing impairment was higher among individuals with diabetes in both sexes; all groups of race or ethnicity, education, and income-poverty ratio; and all age groups but the oldest (those 60 to 69 years)," Bainbridge and her associates report.
"In many cases of mild to moderate hearing loss, patients are not aware of what they cannot hear," notes Dr Keiko Hirose at Washington University in St Louis in a related editorial. "Thus, screening for hearing loss in individuals at risk could lead to interventions that would affect their ability to communicate, their productivity, and their safety.
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