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Defeat Diabetes
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Diabetes Tied to Hearing Loss

Posted: Saturday, November 24, 2012

Combining the results of 13 past studies, Japanese researchers found that impaired hearing was twice as common among people with diabetes compared to those without. And the effects of older age did not seem to explain it.

The link between diabetes and hearing loss was actually stronger among people who were 60 or younger than among older adults. In the younger group, people with diabetes had a 2.6 times higher likelihood of impaired hearing.

Joel Zonszein, director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, stated that it's consistent with the idea that poor blood sugar control -- which damages blood vessels and nerves throughout the body -- and not simply old age might explain why people with diabetes have more hearing problems. Still, he said, "this is an observational association, and additional studies are needed to clarify the relationship between diabetes and prevalence of hearing impairment."

Findings from "observational" studies, where researchers compare diabetics with non-diabetics, cannot prove a cause-and-effect relationship. They can only show a correlation between diabetes and hearing problems. He also added that, no one knows yet whether gaining better control over your blood sugar will curb any risk of hearing loss.

Chika Horikawa, a dietitian at Niigata University in Japan, who led the analysis stated that the findings are based on studies involving more than 20,000 people from the United States, Asia, Australia and Brazil. All but one study found an association between diabetes and a higher prevalence of hearing problems. In one national sample of Americans, for example, close to half of adults with diabetes had some degree of hearing loss compared with about 20 percent of their diabetes-free counterparts.

Across the studies, neither age nor exposure to a noisy workplace explained the connection between diabetes and hearing loss. There could still be explanations other than diabetes itself, as certain medications many diabetics take, particularly blood-pressure-lowering diuretics, can affect hearing.

Still, Horikawa said, the findings suggest it may be a good idea for people with any form of diabetes to have their hearing tested. Some research suggests that hearing loss may increase the odds of depression and dementia, potentially adding an even greater load to the burden of diabetes. In reality, routine screening is done infrequently. Primary care doctors may not even ask diabetic patients about their hearing, Zonszein said.

Source: http://www.diabetesincontrol.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=13861&catid=53&Itemid=8, Published online Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Nov 19, 2012.

 
 
 
 
 
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