Updated 26 January 2017

Type 2 diabetes may damage hearing

An association between type 2 diabetes and hearing impairment in human subjects has been shown in many studies.

Type 2 diabetes may raise the risk of hearing loss, say researchers who recommend hearing tests for patients with the blood sugar disease.

Lack of consistency

The researchers reviewed prior studies examining the link between diabetes and hearing loss. However, further research is needed to confirm this connection, said the team at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Centre in New York City.

"An association between diabetes and hearing impairment in human subjects has been shown in many, but not all, studies," said Elizabeth Helzner, an assistant professor in the School of Public Health.

Read: Diabetes linked to hearing loss

"Direct comparison of these studies is complicated due to a lack of consistency in defining hearing impairment and other factors," she said in a SUNY news release.

However, Helzner added, the association between diabetes and hearing impairment tends to be stronger in studies that included younger participants. It's possible that in older patients, other causes of age-related hearing impairment may mask the contribution of diabetes, she said.

Social isolation

"This factor in itself lends weight to the notion that type 2 diabetes can damage hearing," she explained.

Read: Diabetic patients have higher risk of hearing impairment

Hearing loss affects more than 16 percent of American adults, with nearly half of people older than 75 having difficulty hearing, according to the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Hearing loss has been linked with social isolation, depression, mental decline, dementia, and increased risk for falls, hospitalisation and death, the researchers say.

The study results were published recently in the journal Current Diabetes Reports.

Read more:

Causes of diabetes

Symptoms of diabetes

Diagnosing diabetes


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Dr. May currently works as a fulltime endocrinologist and has been in private practice since 2004. He has a variety of interests, predominantly obesity and diabetes, but also sees patients with osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, men's health disorders, pituitary and adrenal disorders, polycystic ovaries, and disorders of growth. He is a leading member of several obesity and diabetes societies and runs a trial centre for new drugs.

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