The Link Between Hearing Loss and Type 2 Diabetes

Last update on May, 18, 2019

Is your organization serious about putting a dent in diabetes — one of the top five costliest health conditions in the U.S.? If so, you need every tool at your disposal to prevent or delay the disease.

A recent Nurses’ Health Study involving 139,909 women found that type 2 diabetes increased the risk for moderate or worse hearing loss. Furthermore, the risk was higher for participants who had long duration diabetes.

These findings are consistent with earlier studies, including one funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which found that hearing loss is about twice as common in adults with diabetes compared to those who do not have the disease. In addition, the NIH study concluded that adults with pre-diabetes had a 30% higher rate of hearing loss versus those with normal blood sugar.

As the evidence of a diabetes-hearing loss connection continues to grow, the question becomes, what are the implications for health insurance companies and employers?

First, it’s clearly in the best interests of both health insurance companies and employers (and, of course, for individuals) to prevent or delay diabetes. 

The impacts of diabetes

For health insurers

In 2017, the total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes was $327 billion, including $237 billion in direct medical costs, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Treating people who have diabetes accounts for one in four health care dollars in the U.S.

For employers

The indirect costs of diabetes include $3.3 billion from increased absenteeism; $26.9 billion from reduced productivity at work; $37.5 billion from an inability to work due to disease-related disability; and $19.9 billion from lost production capacity due to early mortality, according to the ADA.

Change the diabetes narrative

Educate

Type 2 diabetes can often be prevented or delayed through modest lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, reducing calorie intake and increasing physical activity. In addition, certain medications, such as Metformin, may help prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. Need guidance? Tap into the ADA’s educational materials.

Take action

Get on board with American Diabetes Association Alert Day (March 23, 2021) for a variety of activities prompting members or employees to take action to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. In addition, encourage everyone to take the ADA’s “Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test.”

Hearing loss treatment and diabetes prevention

Because hearing loss is a possible indicator of diabetes or pre-diabetes, a hearing evaluation may augment efforts to identify individuals who haven’t yet been diagnosed with the disease. Encourage your members or employees to get their hearing tested on a regular basis. Those who test positive for hearing loss may want to get screened for diabetes or pre-diabetes, especially if they have one or more risk factors, such as being overweight, family history of the disease and/or physical inactivity.

As a health insurer or employer, you can improve access to hearing health care services, including audiological testing, by offering a hearing benefit or hearing health care program. At the same time, you’ll make hearing aids and related services more affordable for members or employees who need hearing help.

If you don’t currently offer a hearing benefit or hearing program, contact Amplifon Hearing Health Care for information and assistance with implementing the right program for your organization.

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Contact us

Is it time for your health plan to get on board with one of the country’s hottest trends in benefits? Or perhaps evaluate your current hearing benefit to find out if you could be getting a better return on your investment? Either way, Amplifon Hearing Health Care is ready to help you understand your options and tailor a hearing benefit to your health plan and your members.

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