Hearing Loss And Diabetes, What’s The Link?

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

It’s true, hearing loss can sneak up on you. But occasionally, hearing problems bypass the sneaking completely, in favor of a sudden (and often startling), cat-like pounce. It could happen like this: you get up, pull yourself out of bed, and maybe 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 improvement, you start to get a little concerned.

It’s times like this when hearing loss seems to strike suddenly, as if from the shadows somewhere, that it’s a good plan to seek out some medical help. The reason why you should seek help is that sudden hearing loss is usually a symptom of an underlying medical problem. At times, that larger issue can be an obstruction in your ear. It could be just a bit of earwax.

And sometimes that sudden hearing loss can be caused by diabetes.

Diabetes – What is it?

If you don’t instantly identify the link between hearing loss and diabetes that would be understandable. Your pancreas seems like it’s a long way from your ears.

With type 2 diabetes, sugars in your body aren’t properly broken down and converted into energy. This occurs 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, sometimes degenerative (and complex), condition. It needs to be managed carefully, in most cases with the help of your doctor. So how is that related to your hearing?

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 create collateral damage, typically to nerves and blood vessels around the extremities. Tiny hairs in your ears (called stereocilia and responsible for your ability to hear) are especially sensitive to exactly those changes. So even before other more common diabetes symptoms manifest (such as numb toes), you might go through sudden hearing loss.

What Should I do?

You’ii want to get medical help if your hearing has suddenly started giving you trouble. You might 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 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 could be caused by:

  • Infections of varied types.
  • Blood pressure issues.
  • Earwax buildup or other obstructions.
  • Autoimmune diseases.
  • Tissue growth in the ear.
  • Problems with blood circulation (sometimes the result of other problems including diabetes).

Without a proper medical diagnosis, it can be difficult to figure out the cause of your sudden hearing loss and how to manage the root symptoms.

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 treatment of the underlying cause will usually return your hearing back to normal levels if you catch it early. Once the blockage is removed or, with diabetes, once blood circulation issues have been addressed, your hearing will most likely get back to normal if you dealt with it promptly.

But that really does rely on quick and efficient treatment. If they are not addressed in time, some conditions, like diabetes, will lead to irreversible harm to your hearing. So if you’re coping 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 may be easier to detect, and you might catch it sooner if you undergo regular hearing screenings. Specific hearing problems can be identified in these screenings before you notice them.

There’s one more thing that diabetes and hearing loss have in common, managing them sooner will bring better outcomes. Untreated hearing loss can lead to other health concerns such as loss of cognitive function. Schedule an appointment with us for a hearing exam right away.

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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