Hearing loss can sneak up on you, it’s true. But sometimes, hearing problems 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 notice your hearing seems 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 bit more anxious.
It’s times like this when hearing loss seems to strike suddenly, as if from the shadows somewhere, that it’s a good idea to get some medical assistance. The reason why you should seek help is that sudden hearing loss is usually a symptom of an underlying medical problem. In some cases, that larger issue can be a blockage in your ear. It might be just a bit of earwax.
And sometimes that sudden hearing loss can be linked to diabetes.
What is Diabetes?
If you don’t immediately recognize the link between hearing loss and diabetes that would be understandable. Your pancreas and your ears seem very far apart, distance-wise.
With type 2 diabetes, sugars in your body aren’t efficiently broken down and converted into energy. When your body doesn’t generate a sufficient amount of insulin or can’t process the insulin it is producing, this is the result. 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 complicated), condition. It needs to be managed cautiously, usually with the help of your physician. So how is that related to your ears?
Well, it turns out that sudden hearing loss can often be a sign that you’re developing type 2 diabetes. The connection is based on the ability of diabetes to cause collateral damage, typically to nerves and blood vessels around the extremities. These precise changes have a powerful impact on the delicate hairs in your ears responsible for your hearing (called stereocilia). So even before other more widely recognized diabetes symptoms show up (like numb toes), you might go through sudden hearing loss.
What Should I do?
If you’re in this situation, and your hearing has suddenly begun giving you trouble, you’ll certainly want to get checked by a medical professional. Diabetes, for instance, will frequently be totally symptomless at first, so you may not even know you have it until you start to observe some of these warning signs.
Seeking out help as soon as possible will give you the greatest number of options, as is the situation for most forms of hearing loss. But you need to watch for more than just diabetes. Sudden hearing loss could be caused by:
- Autoimmune diseases.
- Problems with your blood pressure.
- Issues with blood circulation (often caused by other problems like diabetes).
- Some kinds of infections.
- A blockage in the ear (such as an build-up of earwax).
- Tissue growth in the ear.
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
Regardless of which of these your sudden hearing loss is caused by, if you catch it early enough, your hearing will typically go back to normal with proper treatment. 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. If they are not treated in time, some conditions, like diabetes, will lead to permanent harm to your hearing. So it’s essential that you seek out medical treatment as quickly as possible, and if you’re suffering from hearing loss get that treated.
Pay Attention to Your Hearing
If you get routine hearing screenings, sudden hearing loss could be easier to identify and you might stop it from sneaking up on you by catching it sooner. These screenings can usually detect specific hearing issues before they become noticeable to you.
There’s one more thing that diabetes and hearing loss have in common, treating them sooner will bring better outcomes. Other issues, including deterioration of cognitive function, can result from untreated hearing loss. Contact us to schedule a hearing test.