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Diabetes can also cause deafness, warns doctors

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 15th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A major cause of blindness across the world is untreated diabetes. Now - doctors say that diabetes can also lead to deafness, and urges that all diabetics be tested for hearing loss early.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Japanese research has found that hearing problems are far more common in diabetics than those without. This proved true when factoring in other conditions such as ageing and a noisy environment.

"We found that people with diabetes had more than two times higher prevalence of hearing impairment than those without diabetes," lead author of the study, Chika Horikawa of Niigata University said.
 
Previous studies investigating the relationship between diabetes and hearing impairment had inconsistent findings. Links had been made between hearing loss and other conditions such as dementia and depression.

"The association of hearing impairment with diabetes is controversial, but it is believed that over time, high blood glucose levels can damage vessels [causing hearing loss]," Horikawa added.

It's thought that glucose damages the nerves and tissues in the ear, diminishing the ability to hear.

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

The findings will be published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Around a third of those more than 60 years of age have significant permanent hearing loss, rising to about two-thirds of all 70-year-olds.

Women in particular are likely to suffer from hearing loss if they are diabetic and their condition is not well controlled with medication.

But this American study, from the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, showed that all men, irrespective of age, and whether or not they were diabetic, displayed worse hearing loss compared with women.

"Several studies have shown that people with diabetes are more likely to have a hearing loss," Dr. Ralph Holme, head of biomedical research at Action on Hearing Loss says.

"It is becoming clear that we now need research to establish if diabetes is the actual cause of the hearing loss or if there are other factors at play.

"It will also be important to understand how diabetes might damage the ear to cause hearing loss.

"In the meantime, Action on Hearing Loss would encourage anyone concerned about their hearing to have it checked by an audiologist."

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