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Diabetes Takes Toll on Women's Hearing: Study
Date:2/4/2012

By Ellin Holohan
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Feb. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Diabetes is associated with hearing loss in women, especially if the blood sugar disease isn't well-controlled, new research indicates.

The study, done by researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, examined the medical records of 990 men and women who had hearing tests between 2000 and 2008. Patients with diabetes were divided into two groups: well-controlled and poorly controlled.

Among women aged 60 to 75, hearing loss was 14 percent worse even in well-controlled diabetics compared to those without diabetes. That is not a clinically significant loss, noted study author Dr. Kathleen Yaremchuk, chairwoman of the department of otolaryngology at the Henry Ford Healthcare System in Detroit.

"An individual might not notice it," Yaremchuk said.

On the other hand, poorly controlled diabetics' hearing was 28 percent worse than the non-diabetic group's hearing.

Younger women who had diabetes, well-managed or not, were more likely to have hearing loss than those unaffected by the illness, the study found.

Diabetes is known to affect the eyes, kidneys and other organs, Yaremchuk said. "Our study shows it can affect hearing as well."

In the study, presented recently at the Triological Society's annual meeting in Miami Beach, Fla., there was no link between hearing loss among men and diabetes, whether it was well-managed or not. Men are more likely in general to suffer from hearing loss than women, so the prevalence of the condition among males may mask diabetes' effect, the study suggested.

Men are exposed to more environmental causes of hearing loss, such as loud noise, either in the workplace or during leisure activities, such as attending large sporting events, explained Yaremchuk.

Managing diabetes properly should help prevent hearing loss or keep it from getting worse, Yaremchuk said.

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