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Study Suggests Connection Between Hearing Loss & Diabetes

Study Suggests Hearing Loss Is More Common Among People With Diabetes

By Mari Gold,, Nov 19, 2011

Some hearing loss can accompany diabetes and even prediabetes.

People with diabetes may want to have their hearing checked, based on a study that found hearing problems twice as common among them as among people without diabetes.

Half of the 11,405 study participants were randomly assigned a hearing test, and nearly 90 percent of them completed the hearing exam and diabetes questionnaire. The test measured participants' ability to hear low, middle, and high frequency sounds in both ears. Participants were asked if they had a little trouble hearing, a lot of trouble hearing, or were deaf without a hearing aid. In addition, 2,259 of the participants who received the hearing tests were randomly assigned to have their blood glucose tested after an overnight fast.

"Using the data from the hearing tests, we measured hearing impairment in eight different ways," said Catherine Cowie, PhD, of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The study, the first nationally representative investigation of adults aged 20 to 69, found an association between diabetes and hearing impairment in people as young as 30 years. A link between diabetes and hearing loss was seen across all frequencies, with more people reporting hearing difficulty in the high frequency range. Even adults with prediabetes had a 30 percent higher rate of hearing loss compared to those with normal blood sugar after an overnight fast.


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