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 startling), cat-like pounce. Here’s a hypothetical: You get 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 suspect that you got some water in your ears, but as the day progresses, and there’s no difference, you start to get a bit concerned.

At times like these, when you experience a sudden severe difference in your hearing, you should seek out medical help. That’s because sudden hearing loss can frequently be a symptom of a larger problem. It might be a simple matter of an obstruction in your ear. Perhaps some earwax.

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

Diabetes – What is it?

If you don’t instantly identify the link between hearing loss and diabetes that would be understandable. Your pancreas seems pretty far away from your ears.

Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which your body has difficulty breaking down sugars into energy. When your body doesn’t generate enough insulin or can’t process the insulin it is making, this is the outcome. That’s why treatments for diabetes normally involve injections or infusions of insulin.

What Does Diabetes Have to do With Your Hearing?

Diabetes is a common complex affliction which can often be degenerative. With the assistance of your doctor, it needs to be managed carefully. But what does that have to do with your ears?

Believe it or not, a pretty common sign of type 2 diabetes is sudden hearing loss. The link is based on the ability of diabetes to cause collateral damage, most often 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 well known diabetes symptoms appear (like numb toes), you could go through sudden hearing loss.

Is There Anything I Can Do?

You’ii want to get medical attention if your hearing has suddenly started giving you trouble. Diabetes, for example, will often be entirely symptomless at first, so you might not even know you have it until you begin to observe some of these red flags.

As is the situation with most types of hearing loss, the sooner you get treatment, the more possibilities you’ll have. But you need to watch for more than just diabetes. Sudden hearing loss can also be caused by:

  • Infections of varied types.
  • Blood pressure issues.
  • Blood circulation problems (these are sometimes caused by other issues, such as diabetes).
  • Growth of tissue in the ear.
  • Autoimmune conditions.
  • A blockage in the ear (like an ear wax build-up).

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

Treatment Solutions For Sudden Hearing Loss

Regardless of which of these your sudden hearing loss is triggered by, if you catch it early enough, your hearing will usually go back to normal with correct treatment. 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 that truly does rely on prompt and efficient treatment. There are some conditions that can cause irreversible harm if they go neglected (diabetes is, again, one of those conditions). So it’s essential that you find medical treatment as quickly as you can, and if you’re experiencing hearing loss get that treated.

Pay Attention to Your Hearing

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

Hearing loss and diabetes have one other thing in common: the sooner you get treatment, the better. Other issues, like deterioration of cognitive function, can result from untreated hearing loss. Call 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.