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Diabetes and Hearing Loss: 2008 Update and Review

Diabetes and Hearing Loss: 2008 Update and Review

June 26, 2008 Interviews

Type I diabetes (insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, IDDM) is often referred to as “juvenile onset” diabetes and represents some 5 to 10 percent of all known cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes (non-IDDM) accounts for some 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases. Type 1 diabetics must acquire insulin via injection or a pump. Type 2 diabetics can often control their diabetes via healthy eating and exercise and sometimes oral meds are prescribed.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in 2005 some 7 percent of the population (21 million people) in the United States had diabetes. This includes some 14.6 million diagnosed, and likely 6.2 million people undiagnosed. In the United States, for people age 20 years or younger, 0.22 percent of the population (176,500 people) have diabetes. For those 20 years of age and older, 9.6 percent of the population (20.6 million people) have diabetes, and of people age 60 years or older 21 percent (10.3 million people) have diabetes.

Although diabetes is likely under-reported as the “cause of death,” it was listed on U.S. death certificates as the sixth leading cause of death (2002). Heart disease and stroke account for some two-thirds of all diabetes-related deaths. Diabetics have heart disease death rates and their risk for stroke is 2 to 4 times higher than the non-diabetic population. As compared to people without diabetes, diabetics have about twice the risk of death as age-matched peers.

Diabetes is also significantly related to high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system disease, amputations, dental disease, and complications in pregnancy. JAMA (2008) suggests a bidirectional relationship between Type 2 diabetes and depression, and suggests it may be appropriate to screen Type 2 diabetic patients for depression.

Bainbridge and colleagues* (2008) studied 5,140 adults and determined that hearing loss was much more common in people with diabetes. People with diabetes had a significantly greater rate of hearing loss than the non-diabetic population. In these cases, diabetes was the suspected origin of their hearing loss, leading to the recommendation that people with diabetes should be screened for hearing loss. Twenty-eight percent of the subjects had hearing loss in the low-mid frequency (below 2000 Hz) range, while 68 percent of all diabetics had high frequency hearing loss. Based on the above, it appears that having type 2 diabetes may well be an independent risk factor for hearing loss.

Douglas L. Beck, AuD, Board Certified in Audiology, is the Web content editor for the American Academy of Audiology.

For More Information, References and Recommendations:
*Bainbridge, H.J., Hoffman, H.J, and Cowie, CC (2008): Diabetes and Hearing Impairment in the United States: Audiometric Evidence from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 1999 to 2004. Annals of Internal Medicine. Vol 149.

Journal of the American Medical Association
Vol 299, No 23, June 18, 2008 (JAMA, 2008; 299(23):2751-2759)

Annals of Internal Medicine 2008;149

American Diabetes Associatrion

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