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 occasionally, hearing issues bypass the sneaking altogether, in favor of a sudden (and often startling), cat-like pounce. It could happen like this: you wake up, drag yourself out of bed, and maybe you don’t detect it until you get out of the shower but your hearing feels…off, or different Maybe muffled.

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

At times like these, when you have a sudden severe difference in your hearing, you should get medical attention. The reason why you should get help is that sudden hearing loss is usually a symptom of an underlying medical problem. It might be a simple matter of an obstruction in your ear. It could be just a bit of earwax.

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

What is Diabetes?

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

With type 2 diabetes, sugars in your body aren’t efficiently broken down and converted into energy. When your body doesn’t produce a sufficient amount of insulin or can’t process the insulin it is making, this is the outcome. That’s why treatments for diabetes usually involve injections or infusions of insulin.

What Does Diabetes Have to do With Your Hearing?

Diabetes is a common, sometimes degenerative (and complicated), condition. It needs to be handled cautiously, in most cases with the help of your physician. So how is that associated with your hearing?

Well, it turns out that sudden hearing loss can often be a sign that you’re developing type 2 diabetes. Collateral damage to other parts of the body is common with diabetes which often has an affect on blood vessels and nerves. Tiny hairs in your ears (called stereocilia and in control of your ability to hear) are especially sensitive to exactly those changes. So you might experience sudden hearing loss even before other, more conventional symptoms of diabetes appear (numb toes, for example).

Is There Anything I Can Do?

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

As is the case with most types of hearing loss, the sooner you find treatment, the more options you’ll have. But it’s not only diabetes you need to be watchful for. Here are a few other possible causes of sudden hearing loss:

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

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

Treatment Solutions For Sudden Hearing Loss

Regardless of which of these your sudden hearing loss is caused by, if you identify it soon enough, your hearing will normally return to normal with proper treatment. Once the obstruction is removed or, with diabetes, once blood circulation problems have been addressed, your hearing will most likely return to normal if you addressed it promptly.

But quick and efficient management is the key here. If they are not treated in time, some conditions, like diabetes, will result in irreversible damage to your hearing. So if you’re coping with any type or degree of hearing loss, get it treated now.

Keep an Eye on Your Ears

If you get routine hearing screenings, sudden hearing loss might be easier to identify and you may stop it from sneaking up on you by detecting it sooner. These screenings can usually 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 issues, like degeneration of cognitive function, can result from untreated hearing loss. Make 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.