Woman testing her glucose levels for diabetes, which can cause hearing loss, ear infections, and balance issues

Millions of people in the United States are diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Beyond dietary changes and insulin regulation, diabetes can affect patients’ lives in profound ways. One notable way is the potential to affect hearing and balance. People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop hearing loss than those without. Some of the more common hearing and balance symptoms from diabetes include:

Ear infections

People with diabetes are more prone to ear infections over time. This is due to a combination of poor blood flow and high blood sugar, which can lower your immune system response and make you more susceptible to infections. Bacterial ear infections can be treated with antibiotics, but repeated infection may require more aggressive options like surgery.


One symptom of type 1 or type 2 diabetes is tinnitus, commonly known as ringing in one or both ears. Your inner ear, or cochlea, is the part of your hearing system that sends sound to the brain. It is unique from most parts of the body in that it does not have fat or energy reserves. As a result, the cochlea relies on oxygen and blood glucose to function properly. Diabetes can negatively impact glucose delivery due to abnormal insulin levels, which can affect the cochlea and subsequently lead to ear ringing.

Balance and coordination

The vestibular, or balance system, is a part of your inner ear that works together with your eyes and brain to help you maintain your balance. Diabetes can cause complications with how your body maintains equal posture with a condition known as vestibular balance disorder. Patients with diabetes are more likely to have falls or difficulty with coordination.

Hearing loss

Perhaps the most significant effect of diabetes on the ears is hearing loss. High glucose levels can damage the specialty cells in the cochlea that are crucial for hearing. When these cells are damaged they do not respond to sound as well, causing hearing loss. Hearing loss from diabetes can range from a degree of mild to moderate but assistive technology such as hearing aids can help you regain access to sound.

While your ear and hearing health may be impacted by diabetes, there are assessment and treatment options available at CEENTA. Sarah Bernacki, an audiologist at our Fort Mill office, goes into further detail about our services. "Diabetes is a complex issue that benefits from the attention of multiple specialists. As an audiologist, I am trained to assess and address any concerns you may have about your hearing and balance, as well as provide next steps for after your visit."

CEENTA audiologists are specially trained to administer a variety of hearing and balance assessments while our otolaryngologists can examine your ears for any signs of infection. Schedule your next hearing evaluation and ENT appointment at CEENTA today for premier ear services by calling 704-295-3000.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. New patients can make appointments online with our ENT doctors in North and South Carolina and call 704-295-3300 to schedule for our audiologists. Current patients can also make appointments through myCEENTAchart with physicians they have already seen.


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