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 get up one morning and go into the shower and when you get out you detect your hearing seems off or different. Muffled, maybe.

At first, you chalk it up to water in your ears, but when your hearing doesn’t get any better as the day advances, you get a bit more anxious.

It’s these moments when hearing loss seems to strike suddenly, as if out of nowhere, that it’s a smart plan to get some medical assistance. The reason why you should seek help is that sudden hearing loss is usually a symptom of an underlying medical problem. It could be a simple matter of an obstruction in your ear. Perhaps some earwax.

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

What is Diabetes?

If you don’t immediately identify the connection between hearing loss and diabetes that would be understandable. Your ears and your pancreas seem very far apart, distance-wise.

Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which your body has difficulty processing sugars 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 prevalent form of diabetes treatments.

What Does Diabetes Have to do With Your Hearing?

Diabetes is a common, sometimes degenerative (and complicated), condition. With the help of your physician, it needs to be handled cautiously. But what does that have to do with your ears?

Well, it turns out that sudden hearing loss can frequently be an indication that you’re developing type 2 diabetes. The link is based on the ability of diabetes to create collateral damage, most often to nerves and blood vessels around the extremities. These precise changes have a powerful impact 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 might experience sudden hearing loss.

What Should I do?

If you’re in this situation, and your hearing has suddenly begun acting up, you’ll certainly want to get examined by a medical professional. Diabetes, for example, will frequently be totally symptomless initially, so you might not even know you have it until you begin to see some of these warning signs.

Seeking out help as soon as possible will give you the largest number of possibilities, as is the case for most forms of hearing loss. But you need to watch out for more than just diabetes. Sudden hearing loss can also be caused by:

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

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

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 problems), effective treatment of the underlying cause will usually bring your hearing back to healthy levels if you recognize it early. Once the obstruction is removed or, in the case of diabetes, once blood circulation problems have been managed, your hearing will likely get back to normal if you dealt with it quickly.

But quick and efficient treatment is the key here. If they are not treated in time, some conditions, like diabetes, will bring about irreversible harm to your hearing. So it’s vital that you seek out medical treatment as quickly as possible, and if you’re experiencing hearing loss get that treated.

Keep an Eye on Your Ears

If you get routine hearing screenings, sudden hearing loss could be easier to detect and you may stop it from sneaking up on you by detecting it sooner. These screenings can typically detect specific hearing issues before they become obvious to you.

Diabetes and hearing loss have one other thing in common: the sooner you get treatment, the better. Other problems, including deterioration of cognitive function, can result from untreated hearing loss. Schedule an appointment with us for a hearing assessment 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.