Poor diabetes control causes hearing loss, especially in women

Poor diabetes control causes hearing loss in women as they age, according to research conducted by Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

The study found that women between the ages of 60 and 75 whose diabetes was poorly managed had worse hearing than women with well-controlled diabetes.

The women with well-controlled diabetes had hearing levels similar to those of non-diabetic women of the same age range.

Researchers also found significantly worse hearing in all women younger than 60 years of age with diabetes, even when the disease is well managed.

Men of all ages in the study had worse hearing loss compared to women in the study, regardless of whether or not they had diabetes.

The researchers analyzed pure tone average, which measures the hearing level at certain frequency, and speech recognition at different ages. In particular, they looked at the frequency at which most people speak and the higher frequencies used in music and alarms.

The records of almost 1,000 patients were used in the study. Patients were categorized by age, gender and whether or not their had diabetes. The study followed the guidelines set by the American Diabetes Association to define well-controlled or poorly controlled diabetes.

Glucose levels and hearing loss
Hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes compared to those without the disease, according to American Diabetes Association.

The rate of hearing loss is 30 percent higher in people with pre-diabetes than in people with normal blood glucose levels.

American Diabetes Association states that high glucose levels can damage the small blood vessels and nerves in the inner ear, causing hearing loss.

Signs of hearing loss include difficulty hearing in noisy places or hearing conversations in large groups, according to American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

Other signs may include difficulty hearing over the telephone, better hearing through one ear than the other, trouble understanding higher pitch sounds, thinking that other people are mumbling, or dizziness, pain or ringing in your ears.

Approximately 34.5 million people in the US have some type of hearing loss, according to American Diabetes Foundation. About 26 million people have diabetes and 79 million are believed to have pre-diabetes.

Sources: Henry Ford Hospital, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, American Diabetes Association

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