New population-based studies: diabetes can damage hearing

Diabetes

Remote areas have no easy access to healthcare
MarsBars - iStock

Researchers from New York’s SUNY Downstate Medical Center and Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have published a review highlighting new population-based data on type 2 diabetes and hearing impairment (HI).

Although the possible relationship between diabetes and HI has been known for some time, the body of evidence has been small. According to SUNY’s newsroom, reporting on the study, there is now compelling evidence that diabetes can damage the auditory system and that physicians should also monitor hearing as part of management for patient with type 2 diabetes. The findings of the study were published in the journal Current Diabetes Reports.

Elizabeth Helzner, Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the center and lead author on the study explained. “An association between diabetes and hearing impairment in human subjects has been shown in many, but not all, studies. Direct comparison of these studies is complicated due to a lack of consistency in defining hearing impairment and other factors,” she said.

“However, the association between diabetes and hearing impairment tends to be stronger in studies that included younger participants, perhaps because in older samples, other causes of age-related hearing impairment may mask the contribution of diabetes to the impairment. This factor in itself lends weight to the notion that type 2 diabetes can damage hearing,” she added. The research also examines evidence for pathophysiologic changes induced by the disease that may result in damage to the auditory system.

The authors believe that well-designed longitudinal studies are needed to explore the nature of the increased risk and the role of a number of variables including diabetes status and disease management factors, after assessing other factors involved in hearing sensitivity.

Source: SUNY Downstate Medical Center Newsroom; Helzner EP, et al. Type 2 Diabetes and Hearing Impairment. Current Diabetes Reports. 2016 Jan;16(1):3.

C.S.