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 occasionally, hearing problems 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 perhaps you don’t detect it until you finish showering but your hearing feels…off, or different Muffled, maybe.

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 bit concerned.

It’s times like this when hearing loss seems to strike suddenly, as if from the shadows somewhere, that it’s a smart decision to seek out some medical attention. The reason why you should get help is that sudden hearing loss is commonly a symptom of an underlying medical problem. In some cases, that larger problem can be an obstruction in your ear. It might be just a bit of earwax.

And sometimes that sudden hearing loss can be caused by diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

You’d be forgiven for not immediately seeing the links between hearing loss and diabetes. Your pancreas and your ears seem really far apart, distance-wise.

Type 2 diabetes is an ailment in which your body has trouble processing sugars into energy. When your body doesn’t generate a sufficient amount of insulin or can’t process the insulin it is producing, this is the result. 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, often degenerative (and complicated), affliction. It needs to be managed carefully, usually with the help of your doctor. But what does that have to do with your hearing?

Well, it turns out that sudden hearing loss can frequently be a sign that you’re developing type 2 diabetes. The connection is based on the ability of diabetes to cause collateral damage, frequently 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 widely recognized diabetes symptoms show up (such as numb toes), you could experience sudden hearing loss.

What Should I do?

If you’re in this scenario, and your hearing has suddenly started acting up, you’ll certainly want to get looked at by a medical professional. You may not even realize that you have diabetes in the beginning, but these warning signs will begin 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 should watch out for more than just diabetes. Here are a few other possible causes of sudden hearing loss:

  • Some kinds of infections.
  • Blood circulation problems (these are sometimes a result of other problems, such as diabetes).
  • Blood pressure problems.
  • Tissue growth in the ear.
  • Earwax buildup or other obstructions.
  • Autoimmune disorders.

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

Treatment Options For Sudden Hearing Loss

Regardless of which of these your sudden hearing loss is caused by, if you identify it early enough, your hearing will normally return 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 quick and efficient treatment is the key here. If they are not addressed in time, some conditions, including diabetes, will lead to permanent harm to your hearing. So if you’re dealing with any type or amount of hearing loss, get it treated now.

Pay Attention to Your Hearing

If you get regular hearing screenings, sudden hearing loss may be easier to identify and you may stop it from sneaking up on you by detecting it sooner. Specific hearing problems can be detected in these screenings before you observe them.

Hearing loss and diabetes have one other thing in common: it’s best to get them treated as soon as possible. Other issues, including degeneration of cognitive function, can result from untreated hearing loss. Make an appointment with us for a hearing test 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.