Diabetic patients need early testing for hearing impairment, study shows

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Patients with diabetes are more than twice as likely to have hearing impairment than individuals without, according to a recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

The study's lead author said based on the findings, diabetic patients should be screened for hearing impairment at an earlier age than non-diabetics. An early diagnosis could lead to reduced incidences of dementia and depression, he added.

Several recent studies investigated diabetes and hearing impairment but the results were inconsistent.

"The association of hearing impairment with diabetes is controversial, but it is believed that over time, high blood glucose levels can damage vessels in the stria vascularis and nerves diminishing the ability to hear," said Chika Horikawa, RD, MSc, of Niigata University in Japan and lead author of the study. "In our study, we found that persons with diabetes had more than two times higher prevalence of hearing impairment than those without diabetes."

Those affected with hearing impairment more than doubled between 1995 and 2004 the study showed. The authors noted that the finding is likely to be independent of aging or a noisy environment. Diabetes and hearing impairment was not significantly influenced by age or gender, they added.

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