New US research has shown that women with diabetes may experience more hearing difficulties as they get older, particularly if their diabetes is not well controlled.
Doctors from the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit discovered that women between the ages of 60 and 75, who had their diabetes well managed with medication and diet, had better hearing than women with poorly controlled diabetes. In fact, their hearing levels were the same as women of similar age who did not have diabetes.
The study also revealed that hearing loss was more pronounced in diabetic women younger than 60 years of age, even if they had their condition well under control.
However, the research team found that men had a greater degree of hearing loss compared to women, irrespective of their age or whether they had this chronic disease or not.
“A certain degree of hearing loss is a normal part of the aging process for all of us, but it is often accelerated in patients with diabetes, especially if blood-glucose levels are not being controlled with medication and diet,” said Dr. Derek Handzo, one of the research leaders at Henry Ford’s Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.
The number of people with diabetes is growing rapidly. At present there are over 25 million children and adults in the United States with diabetes (over 8% of the entire population). There are another 7 million people who have been undiagnosed and another 79 million who are pre-diabetic.
The cost of diabetes is staggering. The direct medical cost for diabetes is over $116 billion and another $58 billion for indirect costs (disability, work loss, premature mortality).
The study was presented recently in Miami at the annual Triological Society’s Combined Sections Meeting.