Hearing Health Blog

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

It’s true, hearing loss can catch you by surprise. But there are times when hearing issues suddenly pounce you like a cat instead of sneaking up on you. It could happen like this: you wake up, drag yourself out of bed, and perhaps you don’t notice until you get out of the shower but your hearing feels…off, or different Maybe muffled.

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

At times like this, when you experience a sudden profound difference in your hearing, you should seek medical help. The reason why you should get help is that sudden hearing loss is often a symptom of an underlying medical issue. It could be a simple matter of an obstruction in your ear. It might be just a bit of earwax.

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

What is Diabetes?

You’d be forgiven for not quickly seeing the connections between hearing loss and diabetes. Your pancreas seems like it’s a long way from your ears.

With type 2 diabetes, sugars in your body aren’t efficiently broken down and turned into energy. This occurs because your body either isn’t producing enough insulin or it’s not reacting to the insulin that you do produce. This is why insulin injections are the most prevalent form of diabetes treatments.

What is The Link Between Diabetes And Hearing?

Diabetes is a common complex condition which can often be degenerative. With the assistance of your doctor, it has to be handled cautiously. But what does that have to do with your ears?

Believe it or not, a pretty common sign of type 2 diabetes is sudden hearing loss. The connection lies in the ability of diabetes to create collateral damage, typically to nerves and blood vessels around the extremities. Tiny tiny hairs in your ears (called stereocilia and in control of your ability to hear) are especially sensitive to those exact changes. So you may experience sudden hearing loss even before other, more conventional symptoms of diabetes appear (numb toes, for instance).

What Should I do?

You’ii want to get medical help if your hearing has suddenly started giving you trouble. You may not even know that you have diabetes at first, but these warning signs will start to clue you in.

As is the case with most types of hearing loss, the sooner you get treatment, the more possibilities you’ll have. But you need to keep an eye out for more than just diabetes. Here are some other possible causes of sudden hearing loss:

  • Problems with blood circulation (often the result of other issues including diabetes).
  • Tissue growth in the ear.
  • Autoimmune diseases.
  • Issues with your blood pressure.
  • Earwax buildup or other obstructions.
  • Some types of infections.

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

Treatment Options For Sudden Hearing Loss

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

But that truly does depend on prompt and effective treatment. If they are not treated in time, some conditions, including diabetes, will lead to irreversible damage to your hearing. So if you’re coping with any type or degree of hearing loss, get it treated now.

Pay Attention to Your Hearing

If you get regular hearing screenings, sudden hearing loss could be easier to detect 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 notice them.

There’s one more thing that diabetes and hearing loss have in common, managing them sooner will bring better results. Other issues, like deterioration of cognitive function, can result from neglected hearing loss. Schedule an appointment with us for a hearing exam 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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