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Defeat Diabetes
150 153rd Ave,
Suite 300

Madeira Beach, FL 33708

Diabetes Leads to Early Aging of the Auditory System

Posted: Friday, February 27, 2004

Preliminary findings of a new study have determined that diabetes, approaching epidemic proportions, may lead to premature aging of the body’s auditory or hearing system. The results add to the literature that has chronicled diabetes’ damaging impact on various organs of the body such as the kidneys, eyes, heart, and nervous system.

The findings come from the Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research (NCRAR), which is currently conducting a five-year epidemiological study to assess the prevalence and severity of auditory dysfunction in veterans with diabetes.

Preliminary results of this study, the largest prospective study of diabetes and auditory function to date, will be presented by Nancy Vaughan, PhD, author of "A Large-Scale Study of Auditory Function in Diabetic Veterans" and Stephen Fausti, Ph.D., Director of the NCRAR, at the Mid Winter Meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology, on Feb 22, 2004

The study included 694 veterans aged 25 to 85 years old, 342 with diabetes; 352 without. By the completion of the study, 800 participants in all will have been evaluated.

A variety of tests were used to evaluate auditory function and interim results were analyzed in relation to duration of disease, age, self-reported noise exposure, insulin use, and HbA1c (hemoglobin) results. Data were also collected on microvascular and neuropathy changes typically associated with diabetes.

Significant findings to date include: increased hearing loss in diabetic veterans aged 60 and younger compared to those of the same age without diabetes, a lack of effect on the cochlear amplifier system as shown by otoacoustic emissions testing, and delays in central auditory processing revealed in the auditory brainstem response (ABR) tests.

Diabetic patients under age 60 exhibited greater hearing loss than non-diabetic study participants of the same age; however, in those over 60, hearing loss was similar between diabetic and non-diabetics. It is theorized that, in older diabetic patients, presbycusis (age-related hearing loss) may obscure any changes in hearing loss due to diabetes. Central auditory processing functions are affected by diabetes to a greater extent than peripheral functions (e.g., hearing loss), indicating that ABR and pure tone testing may be appropriate to reveal changes early in diabetic care. Since hearing takes place not only in the ear, but in higher auditory and cognitive centers responsible for processing the sounds received in the cochlea, early identification of processing changes could be important to verbal communication. The finding that hearing loss is exacerbated in diabetics under 60 years of age is consistent with the theory that diabetes is associated with accelerated aging of the auditory system.  

Source: Diabetes In

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