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

Hearing loss can catch you by surprise, it’s true. But sometimes, hearing issues bypass the sneaking altogether, in favor of a sudden (and often startling), 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 little more concerned.

At times like this, when you experience a sudden severe change to your hearing, you should get medical attention. The reason why you should seek 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 sign of diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

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

Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which your body has trouble breaking down sugars into energy. When your body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t process the insulin it is producing, this is the result. That’s why treatments for diabetes usually involve injections or infusions of insulin.

What Does Diabetes Have to do With Your Hearing?

Diabetes is a common, often degenerative (and complicated), condition. With the help of your doctor, it has to be managed carefully. So how is that associated with your ears?

Believe it or not, a pretty common sign of type 2 diabetes is sudden hearing loss. Collateral damage to other parts of the body is common with diabetes which often has an affect on blood vessels and nerves. 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 common diabetes symptoms appear (such as numb toes), you could experience sudden hearing loss.

Is There Anything I Can Do?

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

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

  • Blood circulation problems (these are often caused by other issues, like diabetes).
  • Tissue growth in the ear.
  • Autoimmune diseases.
  • Problems with your blood pressure.
  • Some types of infections.
  • Earwax buildup or other obstructions.

Without an appropriate medical diagnosis, it can be challenging to figure out what’s causing your sudden hearing loss and how to manage the underlying symptoms.

Treatment Options For Sudden Hearing Loss

Regardless of which of these your sudden hearing loss is triggered by, if you identify it soon enough, your hearing will typically return to normal with correct treatment. Once the obstruction is removed or, in the case of diabetes, once blood circulation problems have been managed, your hearing will most likely get back to normal if you addressed it promptly.

But that truly does rely on prompt and efficient treatment. There are some disorders that can result in irreversible damage if they go neglected (diabetes is, again, one of those conditions). So if you’re dealing with any type or degree of hearing loss, have it treated now.

Pay Attention to Your Hearing

Sudden hearing loss catch you by surprise, but it may be easier to detect, and you might catch it sooner if you undergo regular hearing screenings. Specific hearing problems can be detected in these screenings before you observe them.

Diabetes and hearing loss 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 such as loss of cognitive function. Make 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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