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December 4, 2001

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Question from San Diego, California, USA:

I am 39 years old, I have had type 2 diabetes for about six months, and I have mild to moderate hearing loss. I am wondering why, since I have read many medical studies on-line including the recent Otological Society study about diabetes and deafness, hearing loss is not given as much publicity in the standard list of potential diabetes complications. I think my hearing loss and diabetes are directly related. Since the otologists are up on this, are the endocrinologists behind in acknowledging the link between diabetes and hearing loss?

Answer:

Type�2 diabetes is a collection of diseases with the common feature of hyperglycemia. There have been cases of diabetes associated with hearing deficits that were thought to occur from inheritance of faulty genes from mitochondria (large intracellular structures responsible for making ATP, the cellular form of energy currency). However, I am not aware that more common forms are associated with type 2 diabetes. It may be that neuropathy from diabetes may also have some effect on sensorineural hearing loss, but this is less well characterized.

JTL