The Link Between Diabetes And Hearing Loss

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

It’s true, hearing loss can catch you by surprise. But occasionally, hearing problems 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 notice your hearing seems off or different. Maybe muffled.

You just suspect 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 these moments when hearing loss seems to attack suddenly, as if from the shadows somewhere, that it’s a good idea to seek out some medical attention. The reason why you should get help is that sudden hearing loss is often a symptom of an underlying medical problem. Sometimes, that larger issue can be an obstruction in your ear. It could be just a bit of earwax.

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

What is Diabetes?

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

With type 2 diabetes, sugars in your body aren’t efficiently broken down and turned into energy. This happens because your body either isn’t generating enough insulin or it’s not reacting to the insulin that you do make. That’s why treatments for diabetes normally entail injections or infusions of insulin.

What Does Diabetes Have to do With Your Hearing?

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

Believe it or not, a fairly common sign of type 2 diabetes is sudden hearing loss. The connection is based on the ability of diabetes to cause collateral damage, most often to nerves and blood vessels around the extremities. These precise changes have a strong affect on the delicate hairs in your ears responsible for your hearing (called stereocilia). So even before other more common diabetes symptoms show up (like numb toes), you could experience sudden hearing loss.

What Should I do?

If you’re in this situation, and your hearing has suddenly begun acting up, you’ll definitely want to get examined by a medical professional. Diabetes, for instance, will often be entirely symptomless at first, so you may not even recognize you have it until you begin to notice some of these red flags.

As is the situation with most forms of hearing loss, the sooner you get treatment, the more possibilities you’ll have. But it’s not just diabetes you need to watch for. Sudden hearing loss can also be caused by:

  • Autoimmune diseases.
  • Blood pressure issues.
  • Some kinds of infections.
  • A blockage in the ear (like an ear wax build-up).
  • Growth of tissue in the ear.
  • Issues with blood circulation (sometimes the consequence of other problems such as diabetes).

Without an appropriate medical diagnosis, it can be challenging to figure out the cause of your sudden hearing loss and how to treat the underlying symptoms.

Sudden Hearing Loss Treatment Options

Regardless of which of these your sudden hearing loss is triggered by, if you identify it early enough, your hearing will usually go back to normal with proper 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 quick and efficient treatment is the key here. If they are not addressed in time, some conditions, like diabetes, will bring about irreversible harm 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.

Keep an Eye on Your Ears

Sudden hearing loss catch you by surprise, but it may 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 notice them.

Hearing loss and diabetes have one other thing in common: it’s best to get them treated as soon as possible. Neglected hearing loss can lead to other health concerns such as loss of cognitive function. 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.