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[April 22, 2016]

Hearing Impairment Linked to Type 2 Diabetes

Additional Studies Needed to Confirm Relationship of Diabetes to Hearing Loss

 

Brooklyn, NY – A review of studies of possible linkages between type 2 diabetes and hearing impairment concludes there is compelling evidence that diabetes can damage the auditory system, and that clinicians should include hearing testing in managing type 2 diabetes. The survey results were published in an article titled, “Type 2 Diabetes and Hearing Impairment” in the journal, Current Diabetes Reports.

Elizabeth Helzner, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the School of Public Health at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, said, “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.”

“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.”

Dr. Helzner and her co-author note in the article that the epidemiologic study of the relationship between diabetes and hearing impairment is relatively new. They add that well-designed longitudinal studies are necessary in order to explore whether patients with diabetes are at increased risk of early-onset hearing impairment, and whether the progression of hearing impairment varies based on diabetes status, as well as disease management factors, after taking other known contributors to hearing sensitivity into account.
 
Hearing impairment is one of the most pervasive disabling conditions, affecting 16.1 % of adults in the United States. Two thirds of adults have clinically significant hearing impairment by age 70. Hearing impairment has been associated with social isolation and depression, cognitive decline and incident dementia, a higher propensity for falls and hospitalizations, and increased mortality.

An abstract of the article is available here: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11892-015-0696-0 .
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SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient’s bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, Colleges of Nursing and Health Related Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively.

SUNY Downstate ranks twelfth nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools. More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school. For more information, visit www.downstate.edu.     

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