The Connection Between Hearing Loss and Diabetes

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

It’s true, hearing loss can catch you by surprise. 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, pull yourself out of bed, and maybe you don’t notice 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 difference, you begin to get a bit worried.

It’s times like this when hearing loss seems to strike suddenly, as if from the shadows somewhere, that it’s a good plan to get some medical assistance. That’s because sudden hearing loss can often be a symptom of a larger issue. At times, that larger issue can be a blockage in your ear. It could be just a bit of 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 ears and your pancreas seem really far apart, distance-wise.

Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which your body has difficulty breaking down sugars into energy. When your body doesn’t produce a sufficient amount of insulin or can’t process the insulin it is producing, this is the outcome. That’s why treatments for diabetes normally entail injections or infusions of insulin.

What Does Diabetes Have to do With Your Hearing?

Diabetes is a common, sometimes degenerative (and complex), affliction. It needs to be handled cautiously, in most cases 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 often be a sign that you’re experiencing type 2 diabetes. The link lies in the ability of diabetes to cause collateral damage, typically to nerves and blood vessels around the extremities. Tiny 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 show up (like numb toes), you may experience sudden hearing loss.

Is There Anything I Can Do?

You’ii want to get medical attention if your hearing has suddenly started acting up. Diabetes, for example, will frequently be totally symptomless at first, so you might not even recognize you have it until you begin to notice some of these red flags.

As is the situation with most types of hearing loss, the sooner you get treatment, the more options you’ll have. But you need to watch for more than just diabetes. Sudden hearing loss could be caused by:

  • Issues with blood circulation (sometimes the consequence of other issues like diabetes).
  • Infections of varied types.
  • Tissue growth in the ear.
  • Autoimmune conditions.
  • A blockage in the ear (like an ear wax build-up).
  • Problems with your blood pressure.

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

Sudden Hearing Loss Treatment Options

Here’s the good news, whether your sudden hearing loss is related to diabetes or infection (or any of these other problems), effective management of the underlying cause will usually bring your hearing back to healthy levels if you catch 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 quick and effective management is the key here. There are some disorders that can result in permanent damage if they go untreated (diabetes is, again, one of those conditions). So if you’re dealing 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 might be easier to detect and you may 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 share, managing them sooner will bring better results. Neglected hearing loss can lead to other health concerns like loss of cognitive function. Schedule 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.