Hearing loss can catch you by surprise, it’s true. But there are times when hearing problems suddenly pounce you like a cat instead of sneaking up on you. Here’s a hypothetical: You wake up one morning and go into the shower and when you get out you detect your hearing seems off or different. Maybe muffled.
You just suspect that you got some water in your ears, but as the day continues, and there’s no difference, you start to get a little worried.
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. That’s because sudden hearing loss can frequently be a symptom of a bigger issue. At times, that larger issue can be an obstruction in your ear. It may be just a bit of earwax.
But sudden hearing loss can also be a sign of diabetes.
Diabetes – What is it?
You’d be forgiven for not quickly seeing the connections between hearing loss and diabetes. 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. When your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or can’t process the insulin it is producing, this is the outcome. That’s why treatments for diabetes normally involve injections or infusions of insulin.
What Does Diabetes Have to do With Your Hearing?
Diabetes is a common complex affliction which can sometimes be degenerative. It needs to be handled carefully, in most cases with the help of your doctor. So how is that related to your ears?
Well, it turns out that sudden hearing loss can often be an indication that you’re experiencing type 2 diabetes. The connection is based on 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 particularly sensitive to exactly those changes. So even before other more widely recognized diabetes symptoms appear (like numb toes), you may experience sudden hearing loss.
What Should I do?
You’ii want to get medical help if your hearing has suddenly started giving you trouble. Diabetes, for example, will frequently be totally symptomless initially, so you may not even recognize you have it until you start to notice some of these red flags.
Seeking out help as soon as possible will give you the greatest number of options, as is the case for most types of hearing loss. But you need to keep an eye out for more than just diabetes. Here are some other possible causes of sudden hearing loss:
- Blood circulation problems (these are sometimes caused by other problems, like diabetes).
- Issues with your blood pressure.
- A blockage in the ear (such as an build-up of earwax).
- Tissue growth in the ear.
- Some kinds of infections.
- Autoimmune conditions.
It can be hard 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 identify 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 management is the key here. There are some conditions that can cause permanent damage if they go untreated (diabetes is, again, one of those conditions). 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 might be easier to detect, and you could catch it sooner if you get regular hearing screenings. These screenings can usually detect specific hearing problems before they become noticeable to you.
Hearing loss and diabetes have one other thing in common: the sooner you get treatment, the better. Other issues, like degeneration of cognitive function, can result from untreated hearing loss. Make an appointment with us for a hearing exam right away.