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

Hearing loss can catch you by surprise, it’s true. 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, pull yourself out of bed, and perhaps you don’t detect it until you finish showering but your hearing feels…off, or different Muffled, maybe.

At first, you chalk it up to water in your ears, but when your hearing doesn’t improve as the day progresses, you get a little more anxious.

It’s times like this when hearing loss seems to attack suddenly, as if from the shadows somewhere, that it’s a smart decision to get some medical assistance. The reason why you should get help is that sudden hearing loss is usually a symptom of an underlying medical issue. It may be a simple matter of a blockage in your ear. It may 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 immediately seeing the links between hearing loss and diabetes. Your pancreas seems pretty far away from your ears.

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

What Does Diabetes Have to do With Your Hearing?

Diabetes is a common, often degenerative (and complex), condition. It needs to be managed carefully, normally with the help of your doctor. But what does that have to do with your ears?

Believe it or not, a fairly common sign of type 2 diabetes is sudden hearing loss. The link lies in the ability of diabetes to cause collateral damage, most often 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 particularly sensitive to exactly those changes. So you could suffer sudden hearing loss even before other, more conventional symptoms of diabetes appear (numb toes, for instance).

What Should I do?

If you’re in this scenario, and your hearing has suddenly begun acting up, you’ll certainly want to get looked at by a medical professional. Diabetes, for example, will often be completely symptomless at first, so you might not even realize you have it until you start to notice some of these red flags.

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

  • Earwax buildup or other obstructions.
  • Issues with blood circulation (often the result of other issues like diabetes).
  • Tissue growth in the ear.
  • Issues with your blood pressure.
  • Autoimmune disorders.
  • Infections of varied types.

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

Sudden Hearing Loss Treatment Options

Regardless of which of these your sudden hearing loss is triggered by, if you catch it soon enough, your hearing will normally go back to normal with correct treatment. Once the blockage is removed or, in the case of diabetes, once blood circulation issues have been addressed, your hearing will very likely return to normal if you addressed it quickly.

But that really does rely on quick and efficient treatment. There are some conditions that can cause irreversible harm if they go untreated (diabetes is, again, one of those conditions). So if you’re dealing with any type or amount of hearing loss, have it treated now.

Pay Attention to Your Hearing

If you get routine hearing screenings, sudden hearing loss might be easier to detect and you may stop it from sneaking up on you by detecting it sooner. Specific hearing issues can be identified in these screenings before you notice 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 untreated hearing loss. 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.