Woman testing her sugar to see if diabetes is affecting her hearing health.

Hearing loss can sneak up on you, it’s true. But there are times when hearing problems suddenly pounce you like a cat instead of sneaking up on you. Here’s a hypothetical: You get up one morning and go into the shower and when you get out you detect your hearing seems off or different. Muffled, maybe.

You just assume that you got some water in your ears, but as the day continues, and there’s no improvement, you begin to get a little worried.

It’s times like this when hearing loss seems to attack suddenly, as if from the shadows somewhere, that it’s a smart plan to get some medical attention. The reason why you should get help is that sudden hearing loss is commonly a symptom of an underlying medical issue. Sometimes, that larger problem can be a blockage in your ear. It could be just a bit of earwax.

But sudden hearing loss can also be a symptom of diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

If you don’t immediately recognize the link between hearing loss and diabetes that would be understandable. Your pancreas seems a long way from your ears.

With type 2 diabetes, sugars in your body aren’t efficiently broken down and turned into energy. When your body doesn’t generate a sufficient amount of insulin or can’t process the insulin it is producing, this is the result. That’s why treatments for diabetes normally entail injections or infusions of insulin.

What Does Diabetes Have to do With Your Hearing?

Diabetes is a common, sometimes degenerative (and complicated), affliction. With the help of your doctor, it needs to be managed carefully. But what does that have to do with your ears?

Believe it or not, a fairly common indicator of type 2 diabetes is sudden hearing loss. The link lies in the ability of diabetes to cause collateral damage, typically to nerves and blood vessels around the extremities. These precise changes have a powerful impact on the delicate hairs in your ears responsible for your hearing (called stereocilia). So even before other more common diabetes symptoms appear (such as numb toes), you may go through sudden hearing loss.

What Should I do?

If you’re in this scenario, and your hearing has suddenly started giving you trouble, you’ll definitely want to get checked by a medical professional. Diabetes, for instance, will often be entirely symptomless initially, so you might not even know you have it until you begin to notice some of these warning signs.

As is the case with most types of hearing loss, the sooner you seek out treatment, the more options you’ll have. But it’s not only diabetes you need to watch for. Here are some other possible triggers of sudden hearing loss:

  • An obstruction in the ear (such as an ear wax build-up).
  • Problems with blood circulation (sometimes caused by other problems like diabetes).
  • Infections of various types.
  • Growth of tissue in the ear.
  • Autoimmune disorders.
  • Blood pressure problems.

It can be hard to know what’s causing your sudden hearing loss or what to do about it without a medical diagnosis.

Sudden Hearing Loss Treatment Solutions

The good news here is, whether your sudden hearing loss is related to diabetes or infection (or any of these other issues), effective management of the underlying cause will usually return your hearing back to healthy levels if you catch it early. Once the blockage is removed or, in the case of diabetes, once blood circulation problems have been managed, your hearing will most likely return to normal if you dealt with it quickly.

But quick and efficient treatment is the key here. If they are not addressed in time, some conditions, including diabetes, will result in permanent damage to your hearing. So if you’re coping with any type or amount of hearing loss, have it treated now.

Pay Attention to Your Hearing

If you undergo regular hearing screenings, sudden hearing loss might be easier to identify and you may stop it from sneaking up on you by detecting it sooner. Specific hearing issues can be detected in these screenings before you observe them.

Hearing loss and diabetes have one other thing in common: it’s best to get them treated as soon as possible. Untreated hearing loss can lead to other health concerns like loss of cognitive function. Make an appointment with us for a hearing assessment right away.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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