The Link Between Hearing Loss and Diabetes

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

Hearing loss can sneak up on you, it’s true. 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 jump in the shower and when you get out you notice your hearing seems off or different. Muffled, maybe.

You just assume that you got some water in your ears, but as the day continues, and there’s no difference, you start to get a bit worried.

At times like these, when you have a sudden severe difference in your hearing, you should seek medical help. The reason why you should seek help is that sudden hearing loss is commonly a symptom of an underlying medical problem. It might be a simple matter of a blockage in your ear. Maybe some earwax.

But sudden hearing loss can also be a symptom of diabetes.

Diabetes – What is it?

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

With type 2 diabetes, sugars in your body aren’t properly broken down and converted into energy. When your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or can’t process the insulin it is producing, this is the result. That’s why treatments for diabetes usually entail injections or infusions of insulin.

What Does Diabetes Have to do With Your Hearing?

Diabetes is a common, often degenerative (and complicated), condition. With the help of your doctor, it needs to be managed carefully. So how is that associated with your ears?

Believe it or not, a fairly common sign of type 2 diabetes is sudden hearing loss. Collateral damage to other parts 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 in control of your ability to hear) are especially sensitive to those exact changes. So you may suffer sudden hearing loss even before other, more conventional symptoms of diabetes kick in (numb toes, for instance).

What Should I do?

If you’re in this situation, and your hearing has suddenly started giving you trouble, you’ll certainly want to get looked at by a medical professional. Diabetes, for instance, will often be entirely symptomless initially, so you might not even know you have it until you start to notice some of these red flags.

Seeking out help as soon as possible will give you the largest number of options, as is the situation for most forms of hearing loss. But it’s not only diabetes you need to watch for. Sudden hearing loss could be caused by:

  • Blood pressure issues.
  • Blood circulation problems (these are often a result of other issues, like diabetes).
  • Tissue growth in the ear.
  • An obstruction in the ear (like an build-up of earwax).
  • Autoimmune diseases.
  • Infections of varied types.

Without an appropriate medical diagnosis, it can be difficult to figure out what’s causing your sudden hearing loss and how to manage the root symptoms.

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), effective management of the underlying cause will often return your hearing back to normal levels if you recognize it early. If you promptly address the problem, your hearing is likely to return to normal once the blockage is removed, or in the case of diabetes, once you address the circulation problems.

But quick and efficient management is the key here. There are some disorders that can result in permanent harm if they go neglected (diabetes is, again, one of those conditions). So if you’re dealing with any type or amount of hearing loss, have it treated now.

Keep an Eye on Your Ears

If you get routine hearing screenings, sudden hearing loss could be easier to identify and you may stop it from sneaking up on you by catching it sooner. Specific hearing problems can be detected in these screenings before you notice them.

Diabetes and hearing loss have one other thing in common: the sooner you get treatment, the better. Other problems, like deterioration of cognitive function, can result from neglected hearing loss. Make an appointment with us for a hearing assessment right away.

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.