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Diabetes-Hearing Loss Link Spurs BHI To Urge Hearing Checks, Diabetes Risk Test For American Diabetes Association Alert Day®

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- In response to a recent meta-analysis further revealing a link between diabetes and hearing loss, the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) is urging people with diabetes to get their hearing tested and is encouraging others to find out if they're at risk for developing type 2 diabetes by taking the American Diabetes Association's Diabetes Risk Test. BHI's efforts come in recognition of American Diabetes Association Alert Day® on March 26.  BHI is offering a free, quick, and confidential online hearing check at www.hearingcheck.org. Anyone can take the confidential online survey to determine if they need a comprehensive hearing test by a hearing healthcare professional.

Held on the fourth Tuesday of every March, Alert Day® is a one-day "wake-up call" asking the American public to take the Diabetes Risk Test to find out if they are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Although Alert Day is a one-day event, the Diabetes Risk Test and the BHI Hearing Check are available year-round.

The Diabetes-Hearing Health Connection Hearing depends on small blood vessels and nerves in the inner ear. Studies have shown that people with diabetes have a higher rate of hearing loss than people without diabetes. Although the relationship between diabetes and hearing loss is still being investigated, researchers theorize that, over time, high blood glucose levels can damage the blood vessels and nerves in the inner ear, diminishing the ability to hear.  

In a recent Japanese meta-analysis published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers found that people with diabetes were 2.15 times as likely as those without the disease to have hearing loss. Surprisingly, when broken down by age, the younger group was at greater risk. The results showed that those 60 and younger with diabetes were 2.61 times more likely to have hearing loss, while the risk for those older than 60 was 1.58 times higher. The meta-analysis looked at 13 previous studies—published between 1977 and 2011—that examined the link between diabetes and hearing loss.

According to Professor Hirohito Sone, Department of Internal Medicine, Niigata University School of Medicine, Niigata, Japan:  "Our findings support routine hearing screenings for people with diabetes starting at an earlier age than for people without the disease. From a preventive healthcare perspective, this is very important because we know that when left untreated, hearing loss can exacerbate and perhaps even lead to other health problems, such as depression and dementia, making the diabetes burden even greater."

Likewise, research also suggests that by keeping diabetes under control, people can help minimize potential diabetes-related hearing damage. Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit found that women between the ages of 60 and 75 with well-controlled diabetes had better hearing than women whose diabetes was poorly controlled.

"A certain degree of hearing loss is common with aging, but it is often accelerated in patients with diabetes, especially if blood-glucose levels are not being controlled," said senior study author Kathleen L. Yaremchuk, M.D., Chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

"Our study really points to the importance of patients controlling their diabetes and paying attention to their hearing health." 

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