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Can Diabetes Cause Tinnitus?


Over 29 million people in the U.S. have some degree of tinnitus, which is often described as a ringing in the ears or other static sounds such as buzzing, clicking, and more.

It is not clear what causes tinnitus, however, some evidence points to diabetes being a trigger for the ringing in your ears.

Potential Diabetes Factors That Can Trigger Tinnitus

There are several ways that tinnitus can be triggered. Our doctors of audiology often go over some of the most common causes when educating patients on their tinnitus, and some of the side-effects of diabetes can lead to tinnitus.

These potential causes for tinnitus due to diabetes are:

  • Prolonged high blood sugar – If your diabetes is unmanaged, it can lead to high blood sugar levels. Those high levels can damage the eighth cranial nerve. As this nerve is responsible for conveying balance and sound input to your inner ear—which relays to the brain—having it become damaged can cause tinnitus.
  • Poor blood flow – Diabetes can cause issues with your overall blood flow, which in turn can impact your auditory system. As the sensitive sound transmitting hair cells in your inner ear die due to poor blood flow, it can trigger tinnitus feedback.
  • Issues with ATPase pump – With elevated blood sugar—a common side effect of type 2 diabetes—the enzyme called ATPase pump is impacted. As this enzyme creates the right balance of sodium and potassium for your inner ear, any defect can trigger tinnitus, balance issues, and hearing loss.

Also, depending on what type of diabetes a person has, there may be secondary health issues which can contribute to tinnitus.

Unmanaged Diabetes Can Also Cause Hearing Loss

Along with triggering tinnitus, unmanaged diabetes can lead to hearing loss. Type 2 diabetics in particular are at-risk of hearing loss if their diabetes is unmanaged, as the elevated blood sugar levels can wreak havoc on the delicate blood vessels that extend to your auditory system.

Once your inner ear has been affected—usually with the sound transmitting hair cells dying—there is no repairing the dead cells. Hearing aids are the only way to regain a certain level of hearing, and without more external sound input, people with poorly-managed diabetes will often suffer from hearing loss and tinnitus at the same time.

How To Address Both Your Hearing Issues And Diabetes

If you are struggling with diabetes and tinnitus, it is essential that you work with both your primary physician and an experienced audiologist. That way, you can address your hearing issues as well as properly manage your diabetes.

  • Undergo a hearing evaluation – A hearing evaluation is part of having your tinnitus evaluated, as the two conditions are often connected. Our doctors of audiology can perform both evaluations and help you determine the extent of your hearing complications.
  • Manage diabetes with physician – It is critical that you work with your primary care physician on the management of your diabetes. Depending on what type of diabetes you have, your treatment plan will vary.
  • Use hearing protection – For those who already have tinnitus and hearing loss, if you want to avoid making it worse, it is essential that you protect your remaining hearing with adequate hearing protection.
  • Utilize hearing aids with tinnitus support – Whether or not you have hearing loss, you can use hearing aids to assist with your tinnitus. There are many modern hearing aids that come with built-in tinnitus management software, and this tinnitus support can bring you continual relief.
  • Make lifestyle adjustments – From making dietary changes to manage your diabetes to working on de-stressing to manage your tinnitus, be sure you make the recommended lifestyle changes that our audiologists and your physician will discuss with you.

If you would like to work with our doctors of audiology to manage your hearing health care needs, contact us to set up your consultation today.

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