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October 8, 2003

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from Odessa, Florida, USA:

My nine year old son has complained of ringing in his ears. The ENT doctor found nothing and sent him off to a neurologist for a MRI. Before we put him through that. I wanted to find out if you are aware of ringing in the ears as a symptom of diabetes. Someone mentioned reading that it was.


Ringing in the ear is not a typical sign of diabetes. Please see symptoms of diabetes.

Additional comments from Dr. P.S. Ledereich:
There may be an association of nerve malfunction in people with diabetes
who already have diabetes. It would certainly be unusual to come in
with tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and then diagnosing diabetes from that.

It sounds like the doctors may be on the right track. I do many tests to
patients complaining of tinnitus. These (can) include:
a plain hearing test,
an ABR hearing test,
otoacoustic emissions,
MRI of the brain AND cerebellopontine angle with gadolineum contrast
(looking specifically for a tumor
called an acoustic neuroma – which will be seen in 1/100 patients with
several autoimmune markers – anti cochlear, etc., and
lyme testing (endemic in some parts of the United States),


Most often the test results are usually nothing (and I can reassure the
patients that is
probably is nothing serious). Then I would:

counsel them for hearing preservation and avoiding acoustic trauma
send them to a self help group, e.g., the

American Tinnitus Association,

which will supply many self-help tricks that work in many patients
order a tinnitus masker
try tinnitus retraining techniques
in the worst cases, give antidepressants (not for depression, but that
they help
stabilize nerve membranes, which decrease stimulation and has shown to
decrease the