The objective of this study was to examine the association of estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and urine albumin to creatinine ratio (ACR) with hearing impairment among diabetic adults in Korea. The study was based on data from Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2011 to 2012. Participants were 1206 diabetic adults, aged over 19 years, who completed audiometric testing supervised by nationally certified clinicians. Hearing impairment was defined in three grades: no hearing impairment (pure-tone average 0-25 dB), slight hearing impairment (26-40 dB), and disabling hearing impairment (>40 dB) in the better ear at frequencies 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 kHz. Using logistic regression, risk of hearing impairment was assessed after having controlled for confounding factors. Higher levels of ACR and lower levels of eGFR correlated with an increase in percentage of disabling hearing impairment both unilaterally and bilaterally (P < 0.001). Controlling for possible confounding covariates, odds ratios for hearing impairment showed tendency to increase in higher ACR groups (P for trend = 0.029). Similar pattern was examined between eGFR and hearing impairment (P for trend = 0.006). Odds ratios were 1.981 (1.146, 3.424) for ACR Q4 and 2.773 (1.286, 5.983) for eGFR < 60 mL/min. Fall in eGFR and rise in ACR correlated with severity of hearing impairment. The association existed independently of age, sex, body mass index (BMI), smoking, drinking, exercise, new onset of diabetes, education, income, mental stress, noise exposure, and metabolic syndrome.
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