Diabetes and Hearing Impairment in the United States

The NIH was responsible for sponsoring the study, published online June 17, 2008, in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which was conducted by researchers from the NIDDK, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) components of the NIH, and Social and Scientific Systems, Inc., which provides support on the public health topics to NIH and other government agencies.
“Diabetes and Hearing Impairment in the United States: Audiometric Evidence from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999 to 2004.
1. Kathleen E. Bainbridge, PhD, MPH
2. Howard J. Hoffman, MA
3. Catherine Cowie, PhD, MPH
Background: diabetes might affect the vasculature and neural system of the inner ear, leading to hearing impairment.
Objective: To determine whether hearing impairment is more prevalent among U.S. adults with diabetes.
Design: Cross-sectional analysis of nationally representative data
Setting: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999 to 2004.
Participants: 5140 non-institutionalized adults age 20 – 69 years who had audiometric testing.
Measurements: Hearing Impairment was assessed from the pure tone average of thresholds over low or mid frequencies (500, 1000, and 2000 Hz) and high frequencies (3000, 4000, 6000, and 8000 Hz) and was defined as mild or greater severity (pure tone average greater than 25 decibels hearing level (dB HL) and moderate or greater severity (pure tone average greater than 40 dB HL).
Results: Hearing Impairment was more prevalent among adults with diabetes. The association was independent of known risk factors for hearing impairment, such as noise exposure, ototoxic medication use, and smoking.
(In a separate article The NIH News reported on Monday, June 16 2008 that “Hearing loss is about twice as common in adults with diabetes compared to those who do not have the disease, according to a new study funded by the National Institute of Health.”
Adults with pre-diabetes, whose blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis, had a 30 percent higher rate of hearing loss compared to those with normal blood sugar tested after an overnight fast.)
Limitations: The diagnosis of diabetes was based on self-report. The investigators could not distinguish between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Noise exposure was based on participant recall.
Conclusion: Hearing impairment is common in adults with diabetes, and diabetes seems to be an independent risk factor for the condition.

References: “Guide to Clinical Research Papers” – Total Learning Concepts Inc. The Annals of Internal Medicine, July 2008. NIH News, the National Institute of Health, (NIDDK), June 16 2008. Hearing Healthcare Marketing Company, 2012. Data on File.©HHMC.

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