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Diabetes doesn't just cause blindness - it could also make you deaf, warn doctors PDF Stampa E-mail
Mercoledì 14 Novembre 2012 07:03

For years, we've been warned that diabetes can cause blindness if it's not controlled properly.

Now doctors are warning that diabetics are also more likely to lose their hearing, too.

Japanese research has found that hearing problems are far more common in diabetics than their healthy counterparts, even when other factors such as ageing and a noisy environment are taken into account.

Lead author of the study, Chika Horikawa of Niigata University, said: 'We found that people with diabetes had more than two times higher prevalence of hearing impairment than those without diabetes.'

Several studies have investigated the relationship between diabetes and hearing impairment but their findings were inconsistent.

However links have been made between hearing loss and other conditions such as dementia and depression.

Mr Horikawa added: '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].'

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, notes Mr Horikawa.

The research is due to appear in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Around a third of over-60s have significant permanent hearing loss, rising to about two-thirds of 70-year-olds.

American research published earlier this year found that women in particular are likely to suffer from hearing loss if they are diabetic and their condition is not well controlled with medication.

But the 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.


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

'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.'


da Mailonline