It’s true, hearing loss can sneak up on you. But sometimes, hearing issues bypass the sneaking completely, in favor of a sudden (and often alarming), cat-like pounce. Here’s a hypothetical: You get up one morning and jump in the shower and when you get out you detect your hearing seems off or different. Maybe muffled.
Initially, you chalk it up to water in your ears, but when your hearing doesn’t improve as the day progresses, you get a bit more worried.
It’s times like this when hearing loss seems to attack suddenly, as if from the shadows somewhere, that it’s a good decision to seek out some medical attention. That’s because sudden hearing loss can often be a symptom of a larger problem. In some cases, that larger issue can be 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?
If you don’t immediately identify the link between hearing loss and diabetes that would be understandable. Your pancreas and your ears seem really far apart, distance-wise.
With type 2 diabetes, sugars in your body aren’t properly broken down and turned into energy. This occurs because your body either isn’t producing enough insulin or it’s not reacting to the insulin that you do produce. 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, sometimes degenerative (and complex), affliction. It needs to be handled carefully, normally with the help of your physician. So how is that related to your ears?
Believe it or not, a fairly common sign of type 2 diabetes is sudden hearing loss. The connection is based on 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 especially sensitive to exactly those changes. So you may 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 started acting up, you’ll certainly want to get looked at by a medical professional. You may not even be aware that you have diabetes at first, but these red flags will start to clue you in.
As is the situation with most types of hearing loss, the sooner you find treatment, the more options you’ll have. But you should keep an eye out for more than just diabetes. Sudden hearing loss can also be caused by:
- Earwax buildup or other obstructions.
- Autoimmune diseases.
- Problems with your blood pressure.
- Tissue growth in the ear.
- Blood circulation problems (these are often a result of other issues, such as diabetes).
- Infections of various types.
It can be tough to know what’s causing your sudden hearing loss or what to do about it without a medical diagnosis.
Sudden Hearing Loss Treatment Options
The good news here is, whether your sudden hearing loss is related to diabetes or infection (or any of these other problems), effective treatment of the underlying cause will usually bring your hearing back to normal levels if you recognize it early. If you promptly address the problem, your hearing is likely to return to normal once the blockage is removed, or in the case of diabetes, once you address the circulation problems.
But quick and efficient treatment is the key here. There are some disorders that can result in irreversible harm 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.
Keep an Eye on Your Ears
If you undergo routine hearing screenings, sudden hearing loss could be easier to identify and you may stop it from sneaking up on you by detecting it sooner. These screenings can typically detect specific hearing problems before they become obvious to you.
There’s one more thing that diabetes and hearing loss have in common, managing them sooner will bring better results. Neglected hearing loss can lead to other health concerns like loss of cognitive function. Give us a call to schedule a hearing test.