In a recent Japanese meta-analysis published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers found that people with diabetes were 2.15 times as likely as those without the disease to have hearing loss. Surprisingly, when broken down by age, the younger group was at greater risk.
The results showed that those 60 and younger with diabetes were 2.61 times more likely to have hearing loss, while the risk for those older than 60 was 1.58 times higher. The meta-analysis looked at 13 previous studies—published between 1977 and 2011—that examined the link between diabetes and hearing loss.
According to Professor Hirohito Sone, Department of Internal Medicine, Niigata University School of Medicine, Niigata, Japan: “Our findings support routine hearing screenings for people with diabetes starting at an earlier age than for people without the disease. From a preventive healthcare perspective, this is very important because we know that when left untreated, hearing loss can exacerbate and perhaps even lead to other health problems, such as depression and dementia, making the diabetes burden even greater.”
Likewise, research also suggests that by keeping diabetes under control, people can help minimize potential diabetes-related hearing damage. Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit found that women between the ages of 60 and 75 with well-controlled diabetes had better hearing than women whose diabetes was poorly controlled.
“A certain degree of hearing loss is common with aging, but it is often accelerated in patients with diabetes, especially if blood-glucose levels are not being controlled,” said senior study author Kathleen L. Yaremchuk, MD, chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
“Our study really points to the importance of patients controlling their diabetes and paying attention to their hearing health.”
Unlike eye exams, hearing health examinations are often overlooked in the routine regimen of care for people with diabetes, despite the fact that the vast majority of people with hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids. In fact, almost all of the 400 people who underwent hearing tests at the American Diabetes Association’s EXPO in Portland, Oregon last year said they had never received a physician’s recommendation for a hearing test. Yet more than half of these 400 individuals were found to have hearing loss. And nearly all of them said they did not know that hearing loss is associated with diabetes.
For more information hearing loss and how hearing aids may help, visit www.hiddenhearing.ie