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Increased prevalence of impaired hearing in patients with type 2 diabetes in western India

Abstract

In an out-patient study of 1344 general medical patients over 50 years old in India, the prevalence of hearing aid use was found to be significantly greater in type 2 diabetics.

  • diabetes
  • deafness
  • India

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There has been persistent concern about the increased incidence of hearing loss in diabetes. The literature is scanty on this association,1 2 and there are no studies from the Indian subcontinent. We conducted an out-patient study on the prevalence of deafness, defined as the use of a hearing aid, in 1344 general medical patients over 50 years of age, with and without diabetes.

The total number of diabetic patients was 120, their mean age (± SD) was 64 ± 6 years. The number of patients using a hearing aid are shown in the table. The prevalence of hearing aid use in the entire group was the same as in the local population as a whole. Within each age group, the prevalence was increased in diabetic compared with non-diabetic patients (p<0.001). Deaf diabetic patients were older (71 ± 8.6 vs 65.2 ± 7.3 years, p< 0.01 adjusted for sex), and they had a longer duration of diabetes compared to those who did not use a hearing aid (10.2 ± 6.2vs 8.4 ± 6.1 years, p=0.10 adjusted for sex and age). HbA1c levels during the last year were slightly higher in the deaf patients (7.2 ± 1.2 vs 6.9 ± 1.1%, p>0.1 adjusted for age and sex). There was no difference in prevalence of neuropathy, retinopathy or nephropathy.

Table Number of patients using a hearing aid in a group of 1344 general medical patients in India

We agree with findings of Dalton et al 1 and Stolk et al,2 and hypothesise that deafness might represent a diabetic complication in type 2 diabetic patients.

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