Poorly controlled diabetes may lead to hearing loss in women


Uncontrolled diabetes may result in hearing loss in women much like it affects vision or kidney function, according to the results of a new study.

Uncontrolled diabetes may result in hearing loss in women, much like it affects vision or kidney function, according to the results of a new study.

“There have been studies that demonstrate that hearing loss is greater in diabetics than normal individuals,” study investigator Kathleen L. Yaremchuk, MD, Chair, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, told Drug Topics. “This is the first study that demonstrates that the control of the diabetes can impact the degree of hearing loss that occurs in diabetics.”

The study was presented January 26 at the annual Triological Society's Combined Sections Meeting in Miami Beach, Fla.

The investigators conducted a retrospective chart review of 990 patients who had audiograms performed between 2000 and 2008. Patients were classified by gender, age, and diabetic control (as determined by the American Diabetes Association guidelines that use HbA1C blood levels).

A 3-way analysis of variance was used to examine pure tone average (PTA), speech-frequency PTA, high-frequency PTA, and word recognition scoring (WRS).

The investigators found that there was a statistically significant difference in average PTA for women aged 60 to 75 and those younger than 60 with well-controlled diabetes and poorly controlled diabetes compared with those who did not have diabetes. Among women younger than 60, those with diabetes had worse hearing than non-diabetic women, regardless of whether it was controlled.

A breakdown of the research:

Well-controlled diabetes (<60 years, PTA, 20.0; 60 to 75 years, PTA, 27.0)

Poorly controlled diabetes (<60 years, PTA, 22.1; 60 to 75 years, PTA, 29.6)

No diabetes (<60 years, PTA, 14.8; 60 to 75 years, PTA, 23.6)

The investigators saw no similar correlations among men, who had greater hearings loss than women in all age groups. Men are more likely to be exposed to noise through work, hobbies, and social activities, Yaremchuk said.

“We have known for some time that the control of diabetes was related to kidney function, peripheral neuropathy, and diabetic retinopathy. This study now demonstrates the same is true for hearing,” she said. “Future research would be a prospective, long-term study looking at noise exposure and diabetes status in a population.”

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