Hearing loss can catch you by surprise, it’s true. But in some cases, hearing problems bypass the sneaking altogether, 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 notice your hearing seems off or different. Maybe muffled.
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 little more concerned.
At times like these, when you have a sudden severe change to your hearing, you should seek medical attention. That’s because sudden hearing loss can often be a symptom of a larger problem. In some cases, that larger problem can be 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 recognize the connection between hearing loss and diabetes that would be understandable. Your ears and your pancreas seem very far apart, distance-wise.
With type 2 diabetes, sugars in your body aren’t efficiently broken down and converted into energy. This occurs because your body either isn’t making enough insulin or it’s not responding to the insulin that you do produce. That’s why treatments for diabetes usually involve injections or infusions of insulin.
What Does Diabetes Have to do With Your Hearing?
Diabetes is a common complicated affliction which can often be degenerative. With the assistance of your physician, it needs to be handled carefully. But what does that have to do with your ears?
Believe it or not, a pretty common indicator of type 2 diabetes is sudden hearing loss. The connection is based on the ability of diabetes to create collateral damage, frequently 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 those exact changes. So you may experience sudden hearing loss even before other, more traditional symptoms of diabetes appear (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 may not even know that you have diabetes at first, but these warning signs will begin to clue you in.
As is the situation with most forms of hearing loss, the sooner you get treatment, the more possibilities you’ll have. But it’s not just diabetes you need to be watchful for. Sudden hearing loss could be caused by:
- Blood pressure issues.
- An obstruction in the ear (like an ear wax build-up).
- Growth of tissue in the ear.
- Autoimmune disorders.
- Some types of infections.
- Blood circulation issues (these are often caused by other problems, like diabetes).
It can be difficult to know what’s causing your sudden hearing loss or what you should do about it without a medical diagnosis.
Sudden Hearing Loss Treatment Options
Here’s the good news, whether your sudden hearing loss is related to diabetes or infection (or any of these other issues), effective treatment of the underlying cause will often bring your hearing back to healthy 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 effective treatment is the key here. There are some conditions that can result in irreversible harm if they go untreated (diabetes is, again, one of those conditions). So it’s vital that you seek out medical treatment as quickly as you can, and if you’re experiencing hearing loss get that treated.
Pay Attention to Your Hearing
Sudden hearing loss catch you by surprise, but it might be easier to detect, and you could catch it sooner if you get regular hearing screenings. Specific hearing issues can be identified in these screenings before you notice them.
There’s one more thing that diabetes and hearing loss share, managing them sooner will bring better outcomes. Other issues, including degeneration of cognitive function, can result from untreated hearing loss. Give us a call to schedule a hearing test.