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

It’s true, hearing loss can catch you by surprise. But in some cases, hearing problems bypass the sneaking entirely, 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 notice 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 difference, you start to get a bit worried.

It’s times like this when hearing loss seems to attack suddenly, as if out of nowhere, that it’s a good decision to seek out some medical help. The reason why you should seek 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. Perhaps some earwax.

And sometimes that sudden hearing loss can be related to diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

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

Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which your body has difficulty processing sugars into energy. When your body doesn’t generate enough insulin or can’t process the insulin it is making, this is the outcome. 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, often degenerative (and complex), condition. With the help of your doctor, it needs to be handled carefully. But what does that have to do with your hearing?

Well, it turns out that sudden hearing loss can often be an indication that you’re experiencing type 2 diabetes. The link is based on the ability of diabetes to create collateral damage, frequently 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 could suffer sudden hearing loss even before other, more traditional symptoms of diabetes kick in (numb toes, for instance).

What Should I do?

If you’re in this situation, and your hearing has suddenly begun acting up, you’ll certainly want to get looked at by a medical professional. You might not even know that you have diabetes in the beginning, but these red flags will start to clue you in.

Seeking out help as soon as possible will give you the greatest number of possibilities, as is the case for most forms of hearing loss. But you should watch for more than just diabetes. Here are a few other possible causes of sudden hearing loss:

  • Autoimmune disorders.
  • Some types of infections.
  • Growth of tissue in the ear.
  • Problems with blood circulation (sometimes caused by other issues like diabetes).
  • An obstruction in the ear (like an build-up of earwax).
  • Blood pressure problems.

Without a proper medical diagnosis, it can be difficult to figure out what’s causing your sudden hearing loss and how to manage the root symptoms.

Sudden Hearing Loss Treatment Options

The good news here is, whether your sudden hearing loss is caused by diabetes or infection (or any of these other issues), successful management of the underlying cause will often return your hearing back to healthy levels if you recognize it early. Once the blockage is removed or, in the case of diabetes, once blood circulation problems have been addressed, your hearing will likely get back to normal if you addressed it promptly.

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

Keep an Eye on Your Ears

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

There’s one more thing that diabetes and hearing loss share, treating them sooner will bring better outcomes. Other problems, including 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.