London: Diabetics, who were warned for years that their illness could cause blindness, are in for more bad news, as doctors have claimed that the patients are more likely to lose their hearing, too.
Japanese research has found that hearing problems are far more common in diabetics than their healthy counterparts, even when other factors such as ageing and a noisy environment are taken into account, the Daily Mail reported.
Lead author of the study, Chika Horikawa of Niigata University, said: “We found that people with diabetes had more than two times higher prevalence of hearing impairment than those without diabetes.”
Several studies have investigated the relationship between diabetes and hearing impairment but their findings were inconsistent.
However, links have been made between hearing loss and other conditions such as dementia and depression.
“The association of hearing impairment with diabetes is controversial, but it is believed that over time, high blood glucose levels can damage vessels [causing hearing loss]” Horikawa said.
It’s thought that glucose damages the nerves and tissues in the ear, diminishing the ability to hear.
“Our results propose that diabetic patients be screened for hearing impairment from earlier age compared with non-diabetics, from the viewpoint of prevention of several health problems such as depression and dementia caused by hearing impairment,” Horikawa said.
Around a third of over-60s have significant permanent hearing loss, rising to about two-thirds of 70-year-olds.
American research published earlier this year found that women in particular are likely to suffer from hearing loss if they are diabetic and their condition is not well controlled with medication.
The findings are set to be published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.