Diabetes, Tinnitus + Hearing Loss

Diabetes, Tinnitus + Hearing Loss By: Tyler Ellis, AuD, CH-TM, CCC-A, FAAA

Diabetes affects approximately 17 million people in the U.S. and around 250 million people worldwide. It results in abnormally elevated or otherwise dysregulated blood sugar levels. The diabetic process can impact the vascular system, which provides oxygen-rich blood to internal and sensory organs, including the ears, eyes, and kidneys. Early identification and proper management of diabetes are key to preventing associated health complications.

Delicate structures in the cochlea (inner ear) are susceptible to dysfunction resulting from the vascular consequences of diabetes. Unfortunately, cochlear dysfunction is largely irreversible and often results in diminished sound clarity or sensitivity. In many cases, this change can go undetected by the affected person. Early symptoms of damage to hearing structure or function include phantom ringing, buzzing, hissing in the ears, and greater difficulty understanding conversation in noisy settings.

Audiologists utilize state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment to assess every part of the hearing system from your outer ears to your brain. We also perform specialized speech-in-noise testing to assess your ability to comprehend conversation in those more challenging everyday listening situations. If you or a loved one is managing diabetes, a comprehensive hearing evaluation is recommended to ensure tinnitus, hearing loss, and related symptoms are identified and managed at the earliest possible stages of development. Early identification of hearing loss and/or tinnitus mitigates their impacts on communication and quality of life.   

Source: Taneja N. Tinnitus, hearing impairment and diabetes: A mini-review. Otolaryngol Open J. 2017; SE(5): S6- S9. doi: 10.17140/OTLOJ-SE-5-102