Study: Diabetes Associated With Hearing Impairment

Julia Little  |  November 26, 2012

Diabetes affects the lifestyles of millions of Americans in a number of ways , and now a new study has found that hearing impairment may also be associated with this condition.

A study to be published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that individuals with diabetes have a significantly higher prevalence of hearing impairment than those who do not have the condition. The findings are independent of other factors like aging and a noisy environment, the authors pointed out.

The study found that over time, high blood sugar levels can damage vessels and nerves in a part of the ear, which diminishes the ability to hear.

"In our study we found that persons with diabetes had more than two times higher prevalence of hearing impairment than those without diabetes," said lead study author Chika Horikawa of Niigata University in Japan.

The study further emphasizes the need for older adults with diabetes to get their blood sugar under control. Although there are a number of techniques and tools that can help in the treatment of diabetes, one place to start is diet. According to the Mayo Clinic, a healthy eating plan known as the "diabetes diet" or "medical nutrition therapy" is usually recommended for those who are diagnosed with diabetes. This diet contains healthy carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, fiber-rich foods, and heart-healthy fish like cod, tuna and halibut. It also encourages individuals to stock up on "good" fats such as those from nuts, and reducing saturated and trans fats found in high-fat dairy products, animal proteins and processed foods, as well as cutting back on cholesterol and sodium. 

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