High prevalence of disabling hearing loss in young to middle-aged adults with diabetes
South Africa has one of the highest diabetes prevalence numbers in Sub-Saharan Africa with more than 2 million diagnosed. There is an increase in evidence linking diabetes with hearing loss. This study aimed to determine prevalence and characterize the nature of hearing loss in patients with diabetes. An observational matched groups design was utilized with a total of 192 participants, 110 patients with diabetes (cohort) and 82 patients without diabetes (control). Pure tone audiometry findings showed a significantly higher prevalence of hearing loss in those with diabetes (55%) when compared to those without (20%) diabetes (p < .001). Further, in patients with diabetes (and diagnosed with hearing loss), the majority (74%) presented with sensorineural hearing loss. There was a higher number of participants with disabling hearing loss (pure tone average (PTA) 0.5, 1, 2 and 4 kHz > 41-dB hearing level (HL) in the better ear) in those with diabetes (n = 48) than those without (n = 10). Distortion product otoacoustic emission assessments showed significantly higher percentages of abnormalities (p < 0.01) in those with diabetes compared to those without diabetes. Findings of this study showed that participants who were diagnosed with diabetes had a higher proportion of disabling hearing loss when compared to those without diabetes. The findings of this study further strengthen the suggestion that hearing loss should be considered as a comorbidity associated with diabetes.
KeywordsHearing loss Diabetes Disabled persons Prevalence
The authors would like to acknowledge and thank the Polokwane Provincial Academic Hospital audiology staff (data collection site) for their cooperation in the study as well as the Provincial Department of Health in Limpopo for granting permission for the study.
V. Hlayisi: concepts, design, definition of intellectual content, literature search, data acquisition, data analysis, statistical analysis, manuscript preparation, manuscript editing, and manuscript review.
L. Petersen: definition of intellectual content, literature search, manuscript preparation, manuscript editing, and manuscript review.
L. Ramma: definition of intellectual content, literature search, data analysis manuscript preparation, manuscript editing, and manuscript review.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
Research involving human participants
All procedures performed in the study were in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki declaration (and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards) as well as the ethical standards of the institutional committee. Ethics clearance was obtained from the University of Cape Town’s Faculty of Health Sciences Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC/Ref:134/2015) prior to the commencement of the study.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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