Geneva Hearing Services - Geneva, IL

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

Hearing loss can sneak up on you, it’s true. But there are times when hearing problems suddenly pounce you like a cat rather than sneaking up on you. Here’s a hypothetical: You get up one morning and jump in the shower and when you get out you notice your hearing seems off or different. Muffled, maybe.

Initially, you chalk it up to water in your ears, but when your hearing doesn’t get any better as the day advances, you get a bit more worried.

At times like these, when you have a sudden drastic change to your hearing, you should seek out medical attention. The reason why you should get help is that sudden hearing loss is usually a symptom of an underlying medical issue. It might be a simple matter of an obstruction in your ear. Perhaps some earwax.

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

What is Diabetes?

You’d be forgiven for not immediately seeing the links between hearing loss and diabetes. Your ears and your pancreas seem very far apart, distance-wise.

With type 2 diabetes, sugars in your body aren’t properly broken down and converted into energy. When your body doesn’t make a sufficient amount of insulin or can’t process the insulin it is producing, this is the outcome. That’s why treatments for diabetes usually involve injections or infusions of insulin.

What is The Connection Between Diabetes And Hearing?

Diabetes is a common, often degenerative (and complex), condition. It needs to be handled carefully, usually with the help of your doctor. So how is that related to your ears?

Believe it or not, a fairly common indicator of type 2 diabetes is sudden hearing loss. The link is based on the ability of diabetes to create collateral damage, most often to nerves and blood vessels around the extremities. 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 suffer sudden hearing loss even before other, more conventional symptoms of diabetes kick in (numb toes, for example).

What Should I do?

You’ii want to get medical attention if your hearing has suddenly started giving you trouble. Diabetes, for example, will often be entirely symptomless at first, so you may not even know you have it until you begin to see some of these red flags.

As is the situation with most types of hearing loss, the sooner you seek out treatment, the more possibilities you’ll have. But it’s not only diabetes you need to be watchful for. Sudden hearing loss can also be caused by:

  • Problems with blood circulation (sometimes the result of other problems including diabetes).
  • Earwax buildup or other obstructions.
  • Autoimmune conditions.
  • Problems with your blood pressure.
  • Infections of various types.
  • Growth of tissue in the ear.

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 brought on by diabetes or infection (or any of these other issues), successful management of the underlying cause will usually bring your hearing back to healthy levels if you recognize it early. Once the blockage is removed or, with diabetes, once blood circulation issues have been addressed, your hearing will most likely return to normal if you addressed it quickly.

But quick and efficient treatment is the key here. If they are not addressed in time, some conditions, like diabetes, will result in irreversible harm to your hearing. So if you’re dealing with any type or amount of hearing loss, have it treated now.

Keep an Eye on Your Ears

Sudden hearing loss can sneak up on you, but it might be easier to detect, and you might catch it sooner if you undergo regular hearing screenings. These screenings can usually uncover specific hearing issues before they become obvious to you.

Diabetes and hearing loss have one other thing in common: the sooner you get treatment, the better. Untreated hearing loss can result in other health concerns like loss of cognitive function. Schedule an appointment with us for a hearing test 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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