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 in some cases, hearing problems bypass the sneaking altogether, in favor of a sudden (and often startling), cat-like pounce. Here’s a hypothetical: You wake up one morning and go into the shower and when you get out you notice your hearing seems off or different. Maybe muffled.

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 little more anxious.

At times like this, when you experience a sudden profound difference in your hearing, you should seek out medical attention. The reason why you should seek help is that sudden hearing loss is often a symptom of an underlying medical problem. It may be a simple matter of a blockage in your ear. It could 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 quickly 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. When your body doesn’t generate enough insulin or can’t process the insulin it is producing, this is the result. 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 complex affliction which can often be degenerative. It needs to be managed carefully, normally with the help of your physician. But what does that have to do with your ears?

Believe it or not, a pretty common indicator of type 2 diabetes is sudden hearing loss. The connection is based on the ability of diabetes to cause collateral damage, typically to nerves and blood vessels around the extremities. Tiny hairs in your ears (called stereocilia and in control of your ability to hear) are especially sensitive to those exact changes. So even before other more well known diabetes symptoms manifest (such as numb toes), you could go through sudden hearing loss.

Is There Anything I Can Do?

If you’re in this scenario, and your hearing has suddenly started giving you trouble, you’ll definitely want to get examined by a medical professional. You might not even know that you have diabetes in the beginning, but these red flags will begin to clue you in.

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

  • Blood pressure problems.
  • Autoimmune diseases.
  • Growth of tissue in the ear.
  • A blockage in the ear (such as an build-up of earwax).
  • Blood circulation problems (these are sometimes caused by other problems, such as diabetes).
  • Infections of varied types.

Without a proper medical diagnosis, it can be difficult to figure out the cause of your sudden hearing loss and how to treat the underlying symptoms.

Treatment Solutions For Sudden Hearing Loss

Here’s the good news, whether your sudden hearing loss is brought on by diabetes or infection (or any of these other problems), successful management of the underlying cause will often bring your hearing back to healthy 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 quick and efficient management is the key here. 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 dealing with any type or amount of hearing loss, get it treated now.

Keep an Eye on Your Ears

Sudden hearing loss catch you by surprise, but it may be easier to detect, and you could catch it sooner if you undergo regular hearing screenings. These screenings can typically detect specific hearing problems before they become noticeable to you.

Hearing loss and diabetes have one other thing in common: it’s best to get them treated as soon as possible. Neglected hearing loss can produce other health concerns such as loss of cognitive function. 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.

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