Younger people with disease appear to have higher risk
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 12/19/2012 -- Diabetics are twice as likely to suffer from some form of hearing loss as non-diabetics, according to a new study by researchers at Japan's Niigata University/.
Hearing impairment appears to be another in a long line of ailments, such as cardiovascular and kidney disease, tied to diabetes.
The research, published in the latest issue of the "Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism" that younger people with diabetes were at a higher risk of some hearing loss that older people with the disease; however, researchers could not explain that occurrence.
"Current meta-analysis suggests that the higher prevalence of hearing impairment in diabetic patients compared with non-diabetic patients was consistent regardless of age," noted Chika Horikawa, lead researcher at the school's faculty of medicine, and colleagues.
The Niigata research team gathered information from 13 previous studies, published during a 34-year period ending in 2011, to examine the connection between diabetes and hearing loss. The information included 7,377 people with diabetes and 12,817 people without diabetes.
Horikawa's team discovered that diabetics were more than twice as likely (2.15 times) as people without diabetes to suffer from hearing loss. When broken down by age groups, the results showed that people under the age of 60 had 2.61 times the risk factor and people older than 60 had only 1.58 times higher risk.
It is believed that high blood sugar levels caused by diabetes can damage the blood vessels in the ears, ultimately leading to hearing loss, Horikawa wrote.
In 2008, researchers from the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) noted similar patterns in a study that featured more than 11,000 people. The NIH study also showed that people with diabetes were twice as likely to have hearing loss as those without.
Experts caution that a study of this nature, although informative, does not prove a direct link between greater hearing loss rates and diabetes.
"It doesn't definitively answer the question, but it continues to raise an important point that patients might ask about," said Mayo Clinic diabetes specialist Steven Smith.
The Niigata researchers noted that future studies need to include additional factors, including age and environmental sound issues, in order to narrow down the link between hearing loss and diabetes.
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