Hearing Loss And Diabetes, What’s The Link?

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

Hearing loss can catch you by surprise, it’s true. But in some cases, hearing issues bypass the sneaking altogether, in favor of a sudden (and often alarming), 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. Muffled, maybe.

You just suspect that you got some water in your ears, but as the day continues, and there’s no difference, you start to get a little worried.

It’s times like this when hearing loss seems to attack suddenly, as if from the shadows somewhere, that it’s a smart plan to get some medical attention. That’s because sudden hearing loss can often be a symptom of a bigger issue. At times, that larger problem can be an obstruction in your ear. It may be just a bit of earwax.

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

What is Diabetes?

If you don’t instantly recognize the connection between hearing loss and diabetes that would be understandable. Your pancreas seems a long way from your ears.

With type 2 diabetes, sugars in your body aren’t efficiently broken down and turned into energy. When your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or can’t process the insulin it is producing, this is the result. That’s why treatments for diabetes normally entail injections or infusions of insulin.

What is The Connection Between Diabetes And Hearing?

Diabetes is a common complicated condition which can often be degenerative. With the help of your physician, it needs to be handled carefully. But what does that have to do with your hearing?

Believe it or not, a pretty common indicator of type 2 diabetes is sudden hearing loss. The link is based on the ability of diabetes to cause collateral damage, frequently to nerves and blood vessels around the extremities. These exact changes have a strong impact on the tiny hairs in your ears responsible for your hearing (called stereocilia). So you could suffer sudden hearing loss even before other, more traditional symptoms of diabetes appear (numb toes, for example).

What Should I do?

If you’re in this scenario, and your hearing has suddenly started acting up, you’ll certainly want to get examined by a medical professional. You may not even know that you have diabetes at first, but these red flags will begin to clue you in.

As is the situation with most types of hearing loss, the sooner you seek out treatment, the more possibilities you’ll have. But it’s not just diabetes you need to be watchful for. Sudden hearing loss could be caused by:

  • Blood circulation problems (these are sometimes caused by other problems, like diabetes).
  • Autoimmune disorders.
  • An obstruction in the ear (like an build-up of earwax).
  • Some types of infections.
  • Tissue growth in the ear.
  • Blood pressure problems.

It can be hard 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

Here’s the good news, whether your sudden hearing loss is related to diabetes or infection (or any of these other issues), successful management of the underlying cause will usually return your hearing back to normal levels if you recognize it early. 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 really does rely on quick and effective treatment. There are some disorders that can result in irreversible damage if they go untreated (diabetes is, again, one of those conditions). So if you’re coping with any type or degree of hearing loss, have it treated now.

Pay Attention to Your Hearing

If you undergo regular hearing screenings, sudden hearing loss could be easier to detect and you might stop it from sneaking up on you by catching it sooner. These screenings can usually uncover specific hearing problems before they become noticeable to you.

There’s one more thing that diabetes and hearing loss have in common, treating them sooner will bring better outcomes. Other issues, including deterioration of cognitive function, can result from neglected hearing loss. Contact 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.