Tinnitus, Insulin, and Diabetes

Traditional scientists have demonstrated that insulin levels and sugar metabolism play a significant role in producing tinnitus. Whether insulin levels relate to EH has not been shown, but is a strong possibility. Several clinical studies have demonstrated that approximately 90% of patients with tinnitus have a condition called hyperinsulinemia. This term simply means a higher-than-normal level of insulin in the bloodstream.

Hyperinsulinemia occurs when, at a cellular level, insulin becomes inefficient at transferring glucose from the bloodstream into the body’s cells. The condition is known as insulin resistance. Should this occur, the pancreas produces additional insulin to accomplish the task. People who develop insulin resistance typically have consumed excessive amounts of carbohydrates (sugars) for many years. They have stressed the normal insulin/glucose transfer mechanism to the point that resistance develops. It’s as though the overworked system has become fatigued and worn out. In time, the pancreas cannot keep up increased production, and the result is clinical diabetes. This is adult-onset Type II Diabetes.

Hyperinsulinemia can often be controlled, and diabetes prevented, with proper diet and exercise. But how does this relate to tinnitus?

In November, 2004, researchers at the Federal University of Rio Grande School of Medicine in Brazil reported on 80 tinnitus patients who also had hyperinsulinemia. Patients were prescribed a low-carbohydrate, low-fat diet, and asked to limit intake of alcohol and caffeine. Of the initial 80 patients, 59 followed the diet for two years. 14% of patients who did not follow the diet showed improvement, while 76% of those who did follow the diet showed improvement. That is, tinnitus symptoms improved 500% more in those patients who followed the regimen than in the remaining 21 who did not.

Among the 59 patients who followed the program, 39% had significant improvement of their tinnitus; 22% had some improvement, and in 15%, their tinnitus totally disappeared. How much of this improvement was related to habituation of the noise is not known, but results in the “control” group of who did not follow the diet suggests that the figure for habituation is around 14%.

Hyperinsulinemia with insulin resistance is typically controlled with a low-carbohydrate diet and exercise. My suggestion is that anyone who suffers from tinnitus should consider hyperinsulinemia as a contributing factor, if not the sole cause. Consult your physician for an accurate diagnosis and recommendations. Heredity certainly plays a role in our body types and metabolism. In the final analysis, however, hyperinsulinemia is the result of poor eating habits and lack of adequate exercise.

You are overweight, tend to consume lots of carbohydrates and sweets, and do not exercise regularly, you may gain significant improvement by developing new habits that are appropriate for your physical type and situation. This may not only improve your symptom of tinnitus, but your overall health.