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 there are times when hearing problems suddenly pounce you like a cat rather than sneaking up on you. Here’s a hypothetical: You wake 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 difference, you begin to get a little concerned.

At times like this, when you have a sudden drastic difference in your hearing, you should get medical help. That’s because sudden hearing loss can frequently be a symptom of a larger problem. Sometimes, 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?

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

With type 2 diabetes, sugars in your body aren’t efficiently broken down and turned into energy. This occurs because your body either isn’t generating enough insulin or it’s not reacting to the insulin that you do make. This is why insulin injections are the most common type of diabetes treatments.

What Does Diabetes Have to do With Your Hearing?

Diabetes is a common, sometimes degenerative (and complicated), affliction. It needs to be managed carefully, usually with the help of your physician. But what does that have to do with your hearing?

Well, it turns out that sudden hearing loss can frequently be an indication that you’re experiencing type 2 diabetes. Collateral damage to other parts of the body is common with diabetes which frequently has an affect 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 even before other more common diabetes symptoms manifest (such as numb toes), you could experience sudden hearing loss.

What Should I do?

You’ii want to get medical help if your hearing has suddenly started acting up. You might not even be aware that you have diabetes at first, but these warning signs will start to clue you in.

Seeking out help as soon as possible will give you the greatest number of options, as is the case for most types of hearing loss. But it’s not just diabetes you need to be watchful for. Sudden hearing loss could be caused by:

  • Autoimmune conditions.
  • Infections of varied types.
  • Tissue growth in the ear.
  • Blood circulation issues (these are often caused by other problems, like diabetes).
  • Blood pressure issues.
  • Earwax buildup or other obstructions.

Without an appropriate medical diagnosis, it can be difficult to figure out the cause of your sudden hearing loss and how to manage the root symptoms.

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 treatment of the underlying cause will usually bring your hearing back to normal levels if you catch it early. Once the blockage is removed or, with diabetes, once blood circulation issues have been managed, your hearing will very likely return to normal if you addressed it quickly.

But that truly does rely on quick and effective treatment. There are some disorders that can cause irreversible harm if they go untreated (diabetes is, again, one of those conditions). So it’s vital that you seek out medical treatment as quickly as you can, and if you’re experiencing hearing loss get that treated.

Keep an Eye on Your Ears

If you get regular hearing screenings, sudden hearing loss could be easier to detect 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: the sooner you get treatment, the better. Other problems, including degeneration of cognitive function, can result from neglected hearing loss. 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.

Questions? Talk To Us.

    Dr. Laura Padham, Audiologist

    Ocean Gate, NJ

    143 W Barnegat Avenue
    Ocean Gate, NJ 08740

    Mobile Services in:Ocean, Monmouth, Middlesex, Somerset, Union, Essex, Hudson, Bergen, Passaic, Atlantic, Mercer, and Burlington Counties.

    Call or Text: 848-266-5119

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