Auditory impairment in young people with type 1 diabetes


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Researchers in China recently published the results of a comparative study evaluating auditory function in 50 type 1 diabetics and 50 healthy subjects.

Type 1 diabetes mellitus (DM) is a chronic metabolic disorder related to the body’s inability to produce insulin because of autoimmune destruction of beta cells in the pancreas. Unlike the more common type 2, onset is often in childhood, although type 1 DM can develop in adults in their late 30s and early 40s. Hearing impairment in DM is thought to be associated with an energy imbalance affecting the inner ear. Most existing studies on DM and hearing loss concerned type 2.

The researchers, from medical institutions in Jinan, Shandong province included 24 female and 26 male patients diagnosed with type 1 DM in their study. All the patients enrolled in the study were receiving a daily subcutaneous insulin injection to control blood glucose. Tests included auditory brainstem response, otoacoustic emissions, and clinical examination. The study found that type 1 diabetic patients had a hearing deficit with elevated thresholds for the right and left ears when compared to healthy controls, as well as slower auditory conduction time, and cochlear impairment. Hearing loss was bilateral, sensorineural and subclinical in some cases. The results were statistically significant.

Interestingly, lower HDL-cholesterol, longer disease duration, and higher systolic blood pressure were found to increase the risk of hearing loss in this patient group. The authors conclude that early detection through conventional methods can help prevent progression of hearing impairment and thereby improve quality of life.

Source: Hou Y, et al. Auditory Impairment in Young Type 1 Diabetics. Archives of Medical Research. 2015 Sep 15.