The Link Between Hearing Loss and Diabetes

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

It’s true, hearing loss can sneak up on you. But sometimes, hearing problems bypass the sneaking entirely, in favor of a sudden (and often alarming), cat-like pounce. 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 think that you have water in your ears, but when your hearing doesn’t improve as the day progresses, you get a little more anxious.

At times like these, when you have a sudden profound difference in your hearing, you should get medical attention. That’s because sudden hearing loss can often be a symptom of a bigger issue. It might be a simple matter of an obstruction in your ear. It may be just a bit of earwax.

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

What is Diabetes?

If you don’t immediately recognize the link between hearing loss and diabetes that would be understandable. 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. 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 is The Link Between Diabetes And Hearing?

Diabetes is a common, often degenerative (and complicated), condition. With the assistance of your physician, it has to be managed carefully. But what does that have to do with your hearing?

Well, it turns out that sudden hearing loss can often be an indication that you’re developing type 2 diabetes. The link is based on the ability of diabetes to cause collateral damage, most often to nerves and blood vessels around the extremities. These exact changes have a strong affect on the little hairs in your ears responsible for your hearing (called stereocilia). So even before other more common diabetes symptoms show up (such as numb toes), you might experience sudden hearing loss.

What Should I do?

You’ii want to get medical help if your hearing has suddenly started giving you trouble. Diabetes, for instance, will frequently be totally symptomless at first, so you may not even know you have it until you begin to observe some of these warning signs.

As is the case with most forms 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 a few other possible causes of sudden hearing loss:

  • Issues with your blood pressure.
  • Some kinds of infections.
  • Tissue growth in the ear.
  • Autoimmune diseases.
  • An obstruction in the ear (such as an build-up of earwax).
  • Issues with blood circulation (often the consequence of other problems such as diabetes).

It can be difficult 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

Here’s the good news, whether your sudden hearing loss is related to diabetes or infection (or any of these other problems), successful management of the underlying cause will often bring your hearing back to normal levels if you catch it early. Once the obstruction is removed or, in the case of diabetes, once blood circulation issues have been addressed, your hearing will very likely get back to normal if you addressed it promptly.

But that truly does depend on quick and efficient treatment. There are some disorders that can result in permanent damage if they go untreated (diabetes is, again, one of those conditions). So if you’re dealing with any type or degree of hearing loss, get it treated now.

Keep an Eye on Your Ears

If you get routine hearing screenings, sudden hearing loss might be easier to detect and you might stop it from sneaking up on you by detecting it sooner. These screenings can normally uncover specific hearing problems before they become obvious to you.

There’s one more thing that diabetes and hearing loss have in common, managing them sooner will bring better results. Other problems, 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.

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    Delaney Hearing Center

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