Diabetes Can Affect Hearing
Diabetes complications can affect the eyes, kidneys, heart - and hearing. Women with poorly controlled diabetes may be at higher risk for hearing loss than those who keep their blood sugar well controlled.
That's the conclusion of a study at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Researchers looked at a group of 990 men and women who had hearing testing done at the hospital between 2000 and 2008. They separated out those who had diabetes, and divided that subgroup into those with well-controlled diabetes and those with poorly controlled diabetes.
Women ages 60 to 75 with well-controlled diabetes had hearing loss that was 14 percent worse than women in that age group who didn't have diabetes. Among women in that age group with poorly controlled diabetes, hearing loss was 28 percent worse.
Younger women with diabetes, well-managed or not, were more likely to have hearing loss than those unaffected by the illness.
The new study, presented at a recent meeting of the Triological Society, is important because it looked at diabetes control. Earlier studies on diabetes and hearing loss did not take into account blood-glucose levels. The Triological Society, also known as the American Laryngological, Rhinological and Otological Society Inc., is a professional organization for ear, nose, and throat specialists.
Men in the study did not seem to show a link between diabetes and hearing loss. But men are more likely to suffer from hearing loss than women, so this prevalence may mask diabetes' effect, says study author Kathleen Yaremchuk, M.D.
Men are exposed to more environmental causes of hearing loss, such as loud noise, either in the workplace or during leisure activities, she says.
The bottom line for people with diabetes is the importance of blood glucose control. Managing diabetesproperly should help prevent hearing loss or keep it from getting worse, Dr. Yaremchuk says.
What's unknown is if better management of diabetes can reverse hearing loss that's already occurred.
Recommendations call for people with diabetes to have their vision checked every year, says Spyros Mezitis, M.D., at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
This study suggests people with diabetes may also need to have their hearing tested, Dr. Mezitis says.
Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.