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

Hearing loss can catch you by surprise, it’s true. But occasionally, hearing problems bypass the sneaking altogether, in favor of a sudden (and often alarming), cat-like pounce. Here’s a hypothetical: You wake up one morning and go into the shower and when you get out you detect your hearing seems off or different. Maybe muffled.

At first, you think that you have water in your ears, but when your hearing doesn’t improve as the day progresses, you get a bit more 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 help. That’s because sudden hearing loss can often be a symptom of a larger issue. It may be a simple matter of a blockage in your ear. Perhaps some earwax.

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

Diabetes – What is it?

If you don’t immediately recognize the link between hearing loss and diabetes that would be understandable. Your ears and your pancreas seem very far apart, distance-wise.

With type 2 diabetes, sugars in your body aren’t efficiently broken down and converted into energy. When your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or can’t process the insulin it is making, this is the outcome. That’s why treatments for diabetes normally involve injections or infusions of insulin.

What Does Diabetes Have to do With Your Hearing?

Diabetes is a common complex affliction which can often be degenerative. With the assistance of your physician, it has to be managed cautiously. So how is that associated with your ears?

Believe it or not, a fairly common indicator of type 2 diabetes is sudden hearing loss. The connection lies in the ability of diabetes to cause collateral damage, frequently to nerves and blood vessels around the extremities. Tiny tiny hairs in your ears (called stereocilia and responsible for your ability to hear) are especially sensitive to those exact changes. So even before other more widely recognized diabetes symptoms appear (like numb toes), you might experience sudden hearing loss.

What Should I do?

You’ii want to get medical attention if your hearing has suddenly started acting up. You might not even be aware that you have diabetes in the beginning, but these red flags will start to clue you in.

As is the case with most forms of hearing loss, the sooner you seek out treatment, the more options you’ll have. But it’s not only diabetes you need to be watchful for. Sudden hearing loss could be caused by:

  • Autoimmune disorders.
  • Some types of infections.
  • Issues with blood circulation (sometimes the result of other problems such as diabetes).
  • Tissue growth in the ear.
  • Blood pressure issues.
  • Earwax buildup or other obstructions.

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

Treatment Options For Sudden Hearing Loss

Here’s the good news, 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 bring your hearing back to healthy levels if you recognize it early. If you promptly address the problem, your hearing is likely to return to normal once the blockage is removed, or in the case of diabetes, once you address the circulation problems.

But that really does depend on quick and effective treatment. If they are not addressed in time, some conditions, like diabetes, will bring about permanent damage to your hearing. So it’s vital that you seek out medical treatment as quickly as you can, and if you’re suffering from hearing loss get that treated.

Keep an Eye on Your Ears

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

There’s one more thing that diabetes and hearing loss have in common, managing them sooner will bring better outcomes. Other problems, like deterioration of cognitive function, can result from untreated hearing loss. Contact us to schedule a hearing test.

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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.