According to studies funded in 2008 by the National Institutes of health, people who suffer from diabetes have a higher chance of suffering from hearing loss compared to healthier individuals. Hearing tests were given to a number of adults in the United States which measured the participants’ ability to recognize low, mid and high frequency sounds. The study indicated the prevalence of hearing loss in people suffering from diabetes, especially so in the high frequency range.
Dr. Catherine Cowie, the senior author from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) suggests that people suffering from diabetes should consider additional tests to check for hearing loss, a possible complication that is often overlooked. Even people who only have prediabetes were found to have 30 percent more cases of hearing loss compared to those who were healthier.
“Hearing loss may be an under-recognized complication of diabetes. As diabetes becomes more common, the disease may become a more significant contributor to hearing loss,” Cowie says. “Our study found a strong and consistent link between hearing impairment and diabetes using a number of different outcomes.”
Earlier tests done to show correlation between hearing loss and diabetes were not successful in establishing the relationship between the two conditions. However, the earlier tests were admittedly flawed in the sense that there were lesser participants and the numbers were not nationally representative. According to co-author of the study, epidemiologist Howard Hoffman: “This is the first study of a nationally representative sample of working age adults, 20 to 69 years old, and we found an association between diabetes and hearing impairment evident as early as ages 30 to 40.”
Researchers believe that diabetes causes damage in the ears by damaging blood vessels and nerves affecting hearing, much like how it affects other parts of the body when blood sugar levels are not kept within the normal range. Other complications of diabetes also stem from nerve and blood vessel damage which is brought about by poorly managed blood sugar levels. Other complications brought about by diabetes include hypertension, heart diseases, stroke, kidney disease, eye disease, foot disease and digestive system diseases.
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