Hyperglycemia and diabetes mellitus are related to vestibular organs dysfunction: truth or suggestion? A literature review
Federico Maria Gioacchin, Roberto Albera, Massimo Re, Alfonso Scarpa, Claudia Cassandro, Ettore Cassandro
Diabetes mellitus is an independent risk factor for falling, particularly in the elderly. Due to chronic hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia patients with diabetes mellitus may have neurological deficits as peripheral neuropathy that is a debilitating micro-vascular complication affecting the proximal and distal peripheral sensory and motor nerves. Sensory neuropathy is prominent and represents the chief contributor to postural instability in diabetic subjects. Diabetic retinopathy is another complication consequent to a breakdown of the inner blood-retinal barrier with accumulation of extracellular fluids in the macula and growth of new vessels causing retinal detachment. Together peripheral neuropathy and retinopathy contribute to increase the risk of falls in diabetic patients, but a certain vestibular organs impairment should not be underestimated. Nevertheless, the exact mechanism and localization of peripheral vestibular damage consequent to chronic hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia are currently not still understood. Moreover it is not defined the possible role of these two blood conditions in worsening the prognosis of typical vestibular pathologies like “benign paroxysmal positional vertigo” and “Meniere disease”. The aim of this review was to retrieve all studies investigating about the balance system alterations in patients suffering of diabetes. A search thorough Ovid MEDLINE was performed to enroll all eligible articles. Fourteen studies comprising a total of 1364 patients were included and analyzed in detail. On the basis of data reported in our review it appears plausible to hypothesize a direct connection among chronic hyperglycemic/hyperinsulinemic damage and peripheral vestibular organ dysfunction.