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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


eISSN: 1643-3750

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Diabetes reduces auditory sensitivity in middle-aged listeners more than in elderly listeners: A population- based study of age-related hearing loss

Yasue Uchida, Saiko Sugiura, Fujiko Ando, Tsutomu Nakashima, Hiroshi Shimokata

Med Sci Monit 2010; 16(7): PH63-68

ID: 880914

Background:    Diabetes mellitus (DM) and hearing impairment are both highly prevalent in older adult populations, but how the impact of diabetes on hearing varies by age is not well-studied.
    Material/Methods:    The subjects were 2306 adults aged 40 to 86 years who participated in a population-based study of aging, and were divided into 2 age groups, 40–64 years and 65–86 years, for cross-sectional analysis. Air-conduction pure-tone thresholds at octave intervals from 125 to 8000 Hz were obtained. Outcomes were categorized in relation to presence or absence of DM. Hearing levels at 7 frequencies were set in the general linear model as objective variables with adjustment for confounders. Explanatory variables were age (<65 years vs. ≥65 years), DM (absence vs. presence), and interaction between age and DM.
    Results:    A statistically-significant adverse effect of DM on hearing was observed. This effect varied by age at the higher frequencies. The DM-age interaction was not synergistic at any test frequencies. No significant effects of the DM-age interaction were observed below 4000 Hz. In contrast, significant reciprocal effects of the DM-by-age interaction were found at 4000 Hz and 8000 Hz. Diabetes may accordingly affect higher-frequency hearing more strongly in the younger age-bracket.
    Conclusions:    This study demonstrated that diabetes detrimentally affected hearing in community-dwelling middle-aged and elderly people, and that the effect of diabetes on higher-frequency hearing might be stronger in middle age. Screening for hearing impairment in diabetic patients may provide benefits for intervention or prevention of early presbycusis, particularly in this age group.

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