Having type 1 diabetes is not associated with an increased risk of developing a hearing impairment, research has found.
Scientists compared 1,150 people with type 1 diabetes with 283 of their partners who did not have the condition – the results indicated no overall difference in hearing ability in both groups.
However, the findings also revealed that people with type 1 diabetes who had higher HbA1c readings for longer periods of time did have a greater risk of developing a hearing impairment.
The study was carried out following previous research which indicated an association between diabetes and hearing impairment, but only in studies with small numbers.
This project was the largest of its kind, with the research team recruiting participants from the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial/Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (DCCT/EDIC) study, which has been following the lives of people with type 1 diabetes for more than 30 years.
People who took part in the study had their ears tested at pitches associated with speech as well as at very high ranges.
A total of 20% of participants who had type 1 diabetes complained of speech-level hearing impairment compared to 19% of their partners.
When it came to hearing sound at very high pitches, 52% of those with type 1 diabetes and 48% of their spouses recorded impaired hearing.
The similar results led the researchers to conclude: “We found no significant difference in the prevalence of hearing impairment between the group with type 1 diabetes and the spousal control group. Among those with type 1 diabetes, higher mean HbA1c over time was associated with hearing impairment.”
Commenting on the research, JDRF said: “These findings are good news for people living with type 1 diabetes and their quality of life. However, in their paper, the researchers noted that the relatively young age of the participants (on average 56 years old) may be why they generally found low levels of hearing impairment, as hearing loss tends to develop at an older age.”
The research was limited to exploring the hearing of married people, who tend to be healthier, so the conclusions may not be representative of everyone with type 1 diabetes.
The results appear in Diabetes Care.

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