The Link Between Hearing Loss and Diabetes

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

Hearing loss can catch you by surprise, it’s true. But there are times when hearing problems suddenly pounce you like a cat instead of sneaking up on you. It could happen like this: you get up, drag yourself out of bed, and maybe you don’t notice until you finish showering but your hearing feels…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 difference, you begin to get a bit worried.

At times like these, when you experience a sudden profound change to your hearing, you should seek medical attention. That’s because sudden hearing loss can frequently be a symptom of a larger issue. In some cases, that larger issue can be a blockage in your ear. Maybe some earwax.

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

Diabetes – What is it?

You’d be forgiven for not instantly seeing the connections between hearing loss and diabetes. Your pancreas seems like it’s a long way from your ears.

Type 2 diabetes is an ailment in which your body has difficulty processing sugars into energy. This occurs because your body either isn’t producing enough insulin or it’s not reacting to the insulin that you do make. That’s why treatments for diabetes usually entail injections or infusions of insulin.

What Does Diabetes Have to do With Your Hearing?

Diabetes is a common complicated condition which can often be degenerative. It needs to be managed cautiously, usually with the help of your doctor. So how is that related to your ears?

Well, it turns out that sudden hearing loss can frequently be a sign that you’re developing type 2 diabetes. Collateral damage to other areas of the body is common with diabetes which frequently has an impact on blood vessels and nerves. Tiny hairs in your ears (called stereocilia and responsible for your ability to hear) are particularly sensitive to those exact changes. So you could suffer sudden hearing loss even before other, more traditional symptoms of diabetes appear (numb toes, for instance).

What Should I do?

If you’re in this scenario, and your hearing has suddenly started acting up, you’ll definitely want to get looked at by a medical professional. Diabetes, for instance, will frequently be totally symptomless initially, so you might not even realize you have it until you start to observe some of these warning signs.

As is the case with most forms of hearing loss, the sooner you find treatment, the more options you’ll have. But it’s not just diabetes you need to be watchful for. Sudden hearing loss could be caused by:

  • Tissue growth in the ear.
  • Earwax buildup or other obstructions.
  • Autoimmune conditions.
  • Infections of various types.
  • Issues with blood circulation (often the consequence of other problems including diabetes).
  • Problems with your blood pressure.

Without a proper medical diagnosis, it can be challenging to figure out the cause of your sudden hearing loss and how to handle the underlying symptoms.

Sudden Hearing Loss Treatment Options

The good news here is, whether your sudden hearing loss is brought on by diabetes or infection (or any of these other issues), effective management of the underlying cause will usually 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 likely return to normal if you dealt with it promptly.

But quick and effective management is the key here. There are some conditions that can cause permanent harm if they go untreated (diabetes is, again, one of those conditions). So it’s vital that you find medical treatment as quickly as possible, and if you’re suffering from hearing loss get that treated.

Keep an Eye on Your Ears

If you get regular hearing screenings, sudden hearing loss could be easier to identify and you might stop it from sneaking up on you by catching it sooner. Specific hearing issues can be detected in these screenings before you notice them.

There’s one more thing that diabetes and hearing loss have in common, treating them sooner will bring better outcomes. Untreated hearing loss can produce other health concerns like loss of cognitive function. Give us a call 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.