Harder Hearing with Diabetes

Diabetes patients had higher rates of hearing impairment than those without diabetes

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) November is American Diabetes Month. Just in time to mark the event, a new study highlights one of many health problems associated with diabetes, which now affects tens of millions of Americans.

Patients with diabetes may have more hearing troubles than those without diabetes, according to the study's authors.

These researchers found that patients with diabetes were 2.15 times more likely to experience hearing impairment compared to those without diabetes.

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Diabetes can lead to a number of other health problems, including eye damage and amputation. Several recent studies have looked at the link between diabetes and hearing impairment, but their results were at odds with one another.

Chika Horikawa, RD, MSc, of Niigata University in Japan, and colleagues looked at results from 13 previous studies to better understand the relationship between diabetes and hearing impairment.

According to Dr. Horikawa, the link between hearing impairment and diabetes is controversial, but it is believed that high blood sugar levels can damage specific blood vessels and nerves that results in a decreased the ability to hear. "In our study we found that persons with diabetes had more than two times higher prevalence of hearing impairment than those without diabetes," said Dr. Horikawa.

Research has shown a relationship between hearing impairment and other health problems like depression and dementia (a loss of brain function that affects memory, thinking, language, judgment and behavior).

"Our results propose that diabetic patients be screened for hearing impairment from an earlier age compared with non-diabetics, from the viewpoint of prevention of several health problems such as depression and dementia caused by hearing impairment," said Dr. Horikawa.

This review of previous studies included more than 20,000 participants. Hearing impairment was measured using a test called pure-tone audiometry.

The study was published November 12 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. No conflicts of interest were disclosed.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 14, 2012
Last Updated:
April 1, 2013