Texas Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists, LLP - Bedford, Grapevine and Southlake, TX

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

Hearing loss can sneak up on you, it’s true. But sometimes, hearing issues bypass the sneaking completely, in favor of a sudden (and often startling), cat-like pounce. It could happen like this: you get up, drag yourself out of bed, and perhaps you don’t notice until you finish showering but your hearing feels…off, or different Muffled, maybe.

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

At times like these, when you experience a sudden drastic change to your hearing, you should get medical help. The reason why you should get help is that sudden hearing loss is often a symptom of an underlying medical problem. It might be a simple matter of a blockage in your ear. Perhaps some earwax.

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

Diabetes – What is it?

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

Type 2 diabetes is an ailment in which your body has trouble breaking down sugars into energy. This occurs because your body either isn’t producing enough insulin or it’s not reacting to the insulin that you do make. 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, often degenerative (and complicated), affliction. It needs to be managed carefully, normally with the help of your physician. But what does that have to do with your ears?

Well, it turns out that sudden hearing loss can often be a sign that you’re experiencing type 2 diabetes. The link lies in the ability of diabetes to cause collateral damage, typically to nerves and blood vessels around the extremities. Tiny hairs in your ears (called stereocilia and in control of your ability to hear) are particularly sensitive to exactly those changes. So even before other more widely recognized diabetes symptoms appear (such as numb toes), you could experience sudden hearing loss.

What Should I do?

If you’re in this scenario, and your hearing has suddenly begun acting up, you’ll definitely want to get checked by a medical professional. Diabetes, for instance, will frequently be totally symptomless initially, so you may not even recognize you have it until you start to notice some of these red flags.

Getting help as soon as possible will give you the largest number of possibilities, as is the situation for most forms of hearing loss. But it’s not only diabetes you need to be watchful for. Sudden hearing loss could be caused by:

  • Problems with your blood pressure.
  • Infections of varied types.
  • Earwax buildup or other obstructions.
  • Growth of tissue in the ear.
  • Blood circulation issues (these are sometimes caused by other issues, such as diabetes).
  • Autoimmune diseases.

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

Sudden Hearing Loss Treatment Options

Regardless of which of these your sudden hearing loss is caused by, if you identify it early enough, your hearing will typically return to normal with proper treatment. Once the obstruction 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 promptly.

But quick and efficient treatment is the key here. If they are not addressed in time, some conditions, including diabetes, will lead to permanent harm to your hearing. So it’s essential that you find medical treatment as quickly as you can, and if you’re suffering from hearing loss get that treated.

Pay Attention to Your Hearing

If you get routine hearing screenings, sudden hearing loss might be easier to identify and you may stop it from sneaking up on you by catching it sooner. These screenings can normally uncover specific hearing issues before they become obvious to you.

There’s one more thing that diabetes and hearing loss share, managing them sooner will bring better outcomes. Other problems, including deterioration of cognitive function, can result from untreated 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.