The Link Between Diabetes And Hearing Loss

Woman testing her sugar to see if diabetes is affecting her hearing health.

It’s true, hearing loss can sneak up on you. But there are times when hearing issues suddenly pounce you like a cat rather than sneaking up on you. Here’s a hypothetical: You wake up one morning and go into the shower and when you get out you detect your hearing seems off or different. Maybe muffled.

At first, you chalk it up to water in your ears, but when your hearing doesn’t improve as the day progresses, you get a bit more concerned.

At times like these, when you have a sudden severe change to your hearing, you should get medical attention. The reason why you should seek help is that sudden hearing loss is usually a symptom of an underlying medical issue. In some cases, that larger problem can be an obstruction in your ear. It may be just a bit of earwax.

And sometimes that sudden hearing loss can be linked to diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

You’d be forgiven for not immediately seeing the connections between hearing loss and diabetes. Your pancreas seems pretty far away from your ears.

With type 2 diabetes, sugars in your body aren’t efficiently broken down and converted into energy. When your body doesn’t generate enough insulin or can’t process the insulin it is making, this is the result. This is why insulin injections are the most prevalent type of diabetes treatments.

What is The Connection Between Diabetes And Hearing?

Diabetes is a common, sometimes degenerative (and complicated), condition. It needs to be managed carefully, in most cases with the help of your physician. But what does that have to do with your ears?

Well, it turns out that sudden hearing loss can frequently be a sign that you’re developing type 2 diabetes. Collateral damage to other areas of the body is common with diabetes which frequently has an impact on blood vessels and nerves. Tiny hairs in your ears (called stereocilia and responsible for your ability to hear) are especially sensitive to those exact changes. So you may suffer sudden hearing loss even before other, more traditional symptoms of diabetes appear (numb toes, for example).

Is There Anything I Can Do?

If you’re in this scenario, and your hearing has suddenly begun giving you trouble, you’ll definitely want to get looked at by a medical professional. Diabetes, for example, will frequently be completely symptomless at first, so you may not even recognize you have it until you begin to see some of these red flags.

As is the case with most forms of hearing loss, the sooner you get treatment, the more possibilities you’ll have. But you need to watch out for more than just diabetes. Here are some other possible causes of sudden hearing loss:

  • Autoimmune conditions.
  • An obstruction in the ear (such as an build-up of earwax).
  • Issues with your blood pressure.
  • Some types of infections.
  • Blood circulation problems (these are often a result of other problems, such as diabetes).
  • Growth of tissue in the ear.

It can be hard to know what’s causing your sudden hearing loss or what you should do about it without a medical diagnosis.

Treatment Solutions For Sudden Hearing Loss

The good news here is, whether your sudden hearing loss is brought on by diabetes or infection (or any of these other issues), successful management of the underlying cause will usually bring your hearing back to healthy levels if you catch it early. Once the obstruction is removed or, in the case of diabetes, once blood circulation issues have been managed, your hearing will very likely get back to normal if you addressed it promptly.

But that truly does depend on prompt and efficient treatment. There are some disorders that can cause permanent damage if they go neglected (diabetes is, again, one of those conditions). So if you’re coping with any type or amount of hearing loss, have it treated now.

Keep an Eye on Your Ears

If you get regular hearing screenings, sudden hearing loss might be easier to identify and you may stop it from sneaking up on you by catching it sooner. These screenings can normally detect specific hearing problems before they become noticeable to you.

Diabetes and hearing loss have one other thing in common: the sooner you get treatment, the better. Untreated hearing loss can trigger other health concerns like loss of cognitive function. Contact us to schedule a hearing test.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.