Researchers reviewed studies exploring the link between type 2 diabetes and hearing loss and found evidence that the condition can cause damage to the auditory system.
Given the results of the study published in the journal Current Diabetes Reports, the researchers are pushing doctors to include hearing tests when crafting programs to manage type 2 diabetes in patients diagnosed with the condition.
According to Elizabeth Helzner, one of the authors of the study, the connection between diabetes and hearing loss has been shown numerous times in earlier studies, but directly comparing previous work is difficult because there is no clear definition for hearing loss and other related factors.
"However, the association between diabetes and hearing impairment tends to be stronger in studies that included younger participants," she said.
This is possibly because older samples have a tendency to be influenced by hearing loss brought about by age, which masks any contribution that diabetes may have on poor hearing. Because of this, the researchers conclude that type 2 diabetes can indeed impair hearing.
They do, however, acknowledge that the epidemiological study exploring the connection between diabetes and hearing loss is new. Further research is needed to truly establish the link between the two, specifically longitudinal studies that can assess whether individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are at higher risks of early-onset hearing loss or not. Additionally, further research will be able to provide more information to determine if there are variations in hearing loss progress after taking into consideration factors such as diabetes state and what's being done to manage the condition.
Hearing loss is a pervasive disabling condition that affects 16.1 percent of adults in the U.S. alone. By the time they reach 70 years old, about two-thirds of adults have developed hearing loss defined as clinically significant.
Because of how it affects day-to-day life, hearing loss has been associated with depression and social isolation. However, the condition also has mental and physical repercussions, leading to incident dementia and cognitive decline, as well as higher risks for hospitalization and falls and overall increased mortality.
Kevin Contrera also contributed to the study.
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