The Connection 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 in some cases, hearing issues bypass the sneaking completely, in favor of a sudden (and often startling), cat-like pounce. It could happen like this: you get up, pull yourself out of bed, and maybe you don’t notice until you get out of the shower but your hearing feels…off, or different Maybe muffled.

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

It’s times like this when hearing loss seems to strike suddenly, as if from the shadows somewhere, that it’s a good decision to seek out some medical assistance. That’s because sudden hearing loss can often be a symptom of a larger problem. At times, that larger problem can be a blockage in your ear. Maybe some earwax.

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

What is Diabetes?

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

With type 2 diabetes, sugars in your body aren’t efficiently broken down and converted into energy. This occurs because your body either isn’t producing enough insulin or it’s not reacting to the insulin that you do produce. That’s why treatments for diabetes usually involve injections or infusions of insulin.

What Does Diabetes Have to do With Your Hearing?

Diabetes is a common, sometimes degenerative (and complex), condition. With the assistance of your doctor, it needs to be managed carefully. 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 experiencing type 2 diabetes. The link lies in the ability of diabetes to cause collateral damage, most often to nerves and blood vessels around the extremities. Tiny tiny hairs in your ears (called stereocilia and in control of your ability to hear) are particularly sensitive to those exact changes. So you could experience sudden hearing loss even before other, more conventional symptoms of diabetes appear (numb toes, for example).

Is There Anything I Can Do?

You’ii want to get medical attention if your hearing has suddenly started acting up. You might not even know that you have diabetes at first, but these red flags will start to clue you in.

As is the situation with most types of hearing loss, the sooner you find treatment, the more possibilities you’ll have. But you need to watch for more than just diabetes. Here are some other possible triggers of sudden hearing loss:

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

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

Sudden Hearing Loss Treatment Options

Regardless of which of these your sudden hearing loss is caused by, if you identify it soon enough, your hearing will typically return to normal with proper treatment. Once the obstruction is removed or, with diabetes, once blood circulation problems have been addressed, your hearing will most likely return to normal if you dealt with it promptly.

But that really does depend on prompt and effective treatment. If they are not treated in time, some conditions, like diabetes, will bring about irreversible harm to your hearing. So it’s vital that you get medical treatment as quickly as you can, and if you’re experiencing hearing loss get that treated.

Keep an Eye on Your Ears

Sudden hearing loss catch you by surprise, but it might be easier to detect, and you could catch it sooner if you get regular hearing screenings. Specific hearing issues can be detected in these screenings before you observe them.

Diabetes and hearing loss have one other thing in common: the sooner you get treatment, the better. Neglected hearing loss can result in other health concerns like loss of cognitive function. Make an appointment with us for a hearing exam 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.