Hearing Services of Nashville

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 altogether, in favor of a sudden (and often alarming), cat-like pounce. It could happen like this: you get up, drag yourself out of bed, and perhaps you don’t notice until you get out of the shower 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 difference, you begin to get a little concerned.

It’s these moments when hearing loss seems to attack suddenly, as if out of nowhere, that it’s a smart idea to seek out some medical assistance. That’s because sudden hearing loss can often be a symptom of a bigger issue. Sometimes, that larger problem can be an obstruction in your ear. Perhaps some earwax.

And sometimes that sudden hearing loss can be linked to diabetes.

Diabetes – What is it?

You’d be forgiven for not instantly seeing the links 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. This happens because your body either isn’t generating enough insulin or it’s not reacting to the insulin that you do make. 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 complicated condition which can often be degenerative. With the help of your doctor, it has to be handled cautiously. But what does that have to do with your ears?

Believe it or not, a fairly common indicator of type 2 diabetes is sudden hearing loss. The connection lies in the ability of diabetes to cause collateral damage, typically to nerves and blood vessels around the extremities. Tiny tiny hairs in your ears (called stereocilia and responsible for your ability to hear) are particularly sensitive to exactly those changes. So you may experience sudden hearing loss even before other, more traditional symptoms of diabetes appear (numb toes, for example).

What Should I do?

You’ii want to get medical attention if your hearing has suddenly started acting up. Diabetes, for instance, will frequently be completely symptomless initially, so you may not even know you have it until you start to observe some of these red flags.

As is the situation with most forms of hearing loss, the sooner you seek out treatment, the more possibilities you’ll have. But it’s not just diabetes you need to be watchful for. Here are some other possible triggers of sudden hearing loss:

  • Autoimmune diseases.
  • Blood pressure issues.
  • An obstruction in the ear (such as an build-up of earwax).
  • Growth of tissue in the ear.
  • Issues with blood circulation (often the result of other problems such as diabetes).
  • Infections of varied types.

It can be tough to know what’s causing your sudden hearing loss or what to do about it without a medical diagnosis.

Treatment Options For Sudden Hearing Loss

Here’s the good news, whether your sudden hearing loss is related to diabetes or infection (or any of these other problems), successful treatment of the underlying cause will often return your hearing back to healthy levels if you catch it early. Once the obstruction is removed or, in the case of diabetes, once blood circulation problems have been managed, your hearing will likely return to normal if you addressed it quickly.

But that truly does rely on prompt and efficient treatment. There are some conditions that can cause permanent damage if they go untreated (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 get regular hearing screenings, sudden hearing loss might be easier to detect and you might stop it from sneaking up on you by catching it sooner. These screenings can normally uncover specific hearing issues before they become noticeable to you.

Diabetes and hearing loss have one other thing in common: the sooner you get treatment, the better. Other problems, including deterioration of cognitive function, can result from untreated hearing loss. Schedule an appointment with us for a hearing assessment right away.

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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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