FRIDAY, Nov. 16 (HealthDay News) -- People with diabetes may have a higher risk of hearing problems than those without the disease, a new research review confirms.
Combining the results of 13 past studies, Japanese researchers found that impaired hearing was twice as common among people with diabetes compared to those without. And the effects of older age did not seem to explain it.
The link between diabetes and hearing loss was actually stronger among people who were 60 or younger than among older adults. In the younger group, people with diabetes had a 2.6 times higher likelihood of impaired hearing.
That's an interesting finding, said Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.
It's consistent with the idea that poor blood sugar control -- which damages blood vessels and nerves throughout the body -- and not simply old age might explain why people with diabetes have more hearing problems, said Zonszein, who was not involved in the study.
Still, he said, "this is an observational association, and additional studies are needed to clarify the relationship between diabetes and prevalence of hearing impairment."
Findings from "observational" studies, where researchers compare diabetics with non-diabetics, cannot prove a cause-and-effect relationship. They can only show a correlation between diabetes and hearing problems.
What's more, Zonszein said, no one knows yet whether gaining better control over your blood sugar will curb any risk of hearing loss.
The findings, published online this week in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, are based on studies involving more than 20,000 people from the United States, Asia, Australia and Brazil. All but one study found an association between diabetes and a higher prevalence of heari
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