The Connection 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 occasionally, hearing issues bypass the sneaking completely, in favor of a sudden (and often alarming), cat-like pounce. Here’s a hypothetical: You wake up one morning and jump in the shower and when you get out you detect your hearing seems off or different. Maybe muffled.

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

At times like these, when you experience a sudden profound change to your hearing, you should seek medical help. The reason why you should get help is that sudden hearing loss is commonly a symptom of an underlying medical problem. It might be a simple matter of an obstruction in your ear. Perhaps some earwax.

And sometimes that sudden hearing loss can be caused by diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

If you don’t immediately recognize the link between hearing loss and diabetes that would be understandable. Your pancreas seems like it’s a long way from your ears.

Type 2 diabetes is an ailment in which your body has trouble breaking down sugars into energy. This happens because your body either isn’t generating enough insulin or it’s not responding to the insulin that you do make. That’s why treatments for diabetes usually entail injections or infusions of insulin.

What is The Link Between Diabetes And Hearing?

Diabetes is a common complicated condition which can often be degenerative. With the assistance of your doctor, it has to be managed cautiously. So how is that related to your hearing?

Believe it or not, a fairly common indicator of type 2 diabetes is sudden hearing loss. The link is based on the ability of diabetes to create collateral damage, frequently to nerves and blood vessels around the extremities. Tiny hairs in your ears (called stereocilia and responsible for your ability to hear) are particularly sensitive to those exact changes. So even before other more common diabetes symptoms appear (such as numb toes), you could experience sudden hearing loss.

What Should I do?

If you’re in this situation, and your hearing has suddenly begun giving you trouble, you’ll definitely want to get looked over by a medical professional. You might not even be aware that you have diabetes in the beginning, but these warning signs will begin to clue you in.

Getting help as soon as possible will give you the largest number of possibilities, as is the case for most forms of hearing loss. But you should keep an eye out for more than just diabetes. Here are a few other possible causes of sudden hearing loss:

  • Tissue growth in the ear.
  • Some kinds of infections.
  • Blood circulation issues (these are often caused by other issues, like diabetes).
  • Autoimmune diseases.
  • A blockage in the ear (such as an ear wax build-up).
  • Issues with your blood pressure.

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

Treatment Options 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 problems), effective management of the underlying cause will often bring your hearing back to normal levels if you catch it early. Once the blockage is removed or, in the case of diabetes, once blood circulation issues have been addressed, your hearing will most likely get back to normal if you dealt with it promptly.

But quick and efficient management is the key here. If they are not treated in time, some conditions, including diabetes, will result in permanent damage to your hearing. So it’s essential that you seek out medical treatment as quickly as possible, and if you’re suffering from hearing loss get that treated.

Pay Attention to Your Hearing

Sudden hearing loss catch you by surprise, but it may be easier to detect, and you might catch it sooner if you undergo regular hearing screenings. These screenings can usually detect specific hearing issues before they become noticeable to you.

Diabetes and hearing loss have one other thing in common: the sooner you get treatment, the better. Other problems, including 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.