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Hearing Loss: Another Possible Complication of Diabetes?

By EmpowHER
 
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Diabetics, listen up. Hearing loss may be the newest health issue added to the list of medical complications associated with diabetes. A recent report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that diabetics have a higher rate of hearing problems than people without diabetes.

The study involved more than 5,100 adults between the ages of 20 and 69 years old who had their hearing tested as part of a large nationwide health study in the U.S. The participants completed surveys describing their general health, noting conditions like diabetes and other health problems or environmental exposures that might affect hearing.

The survey did not distinguish between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, although most individuals reporting diabetes were likely to have the more common type 2 form of the disease according to primary author Kathleen Bainbridge, Ph.D. and her colleagues.

The results indicated that diabetics were more than twice as likely to have some type of hearing loss compared with non-diabetics. “Our data suggest that hearing impairment may be an under recognized complication of diabetes,” the authors conclude. “With the high prevalence,” they add, “screening (diabetics) for this condition may be justified.”

Screening for hearing problems may be important because most diabetics with hearing loss in the study had only mild to moderate deficits. This level of hearing loss is difficult to detect without special testing but can still cause substantial difficulty in day-to-day communication. In many cases, people just don’t realize how much they aren’t hearing.

Experts aren’t sure how diabetes causes hearing problems. Some think that tiny blood vessels are damaged within the inner ear, similar to the destruction frequently found in the eyes, kidneys, heart or nerves of diabetic patients. However it occurs, diabetes would be smart to pay attention to their hearing and think about getting check ups with their hearing specialist from time to time.

Article Links:
Bainbridge, K., et al., 2008.

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