Hearing loss is often something that can creep up on you over time, but there are occasions where it can catch you by complete surprise with a sudden and often startling loss of hearing.
In late January, Jennifer, 56, contacted Audiology Medical Services after experiencing a sudden loss of hearing. Jennifer had gotten up for work, jumped in the shower, and afterwards realised something was off with her hearing. Sounds were being muffled and she couldn’t hear properly from one of her ears, but initially, Jennifer assumed she just had water in it from her shower. However, when it hadn’t gone by that night, she began to get more anxious.
At times like this, where hearing loss strikes very suddenly, it’s always a good idea to seek professional attention. Sudden hearing loss may just be an obstruction in the ear, such as earwax, which can be easily removed using microsuction, but sometimes it can be a symptom of a much larger problem. When Jennifer contacted us the following morning, and booked her emergency appointment, it was eventually diagnosed that her hearing loss was related to diabetes, which she didn’t even know she had.
Inspired by Jennifer’s story, in this blog we are going to take a look at the connection between diabetes and hearing loss, as well as some other causes of sudden hearing loss.
WHAT EXACTLY IS DIABETES AND WHAT IS ITS CONNECTION TO HEARING?
It may be a challenge to instantly identify the connection between hearing loss and diabetes, with your ears being so far away from your pancreas, but we’ll try to make it all as clear as possible for you to understand.
Diabetes is a condition affecting how an individual’s body regulates their blood sugar levels. Broken into Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes, it impacts the individual’s health in many different ways and is a condition that needs to be handled carefully with the assistance of your doctor.
HOW HIGH BLOOD SUGARS CAN IMPACT HEARING LOSS
One of the possible ways diabetes and specifically high blood sugars impacts the body is by effecting the small blood vessels and nerves within the ear. These changes of the blood vessels and nerves impacts the blood circulation and tiny hairs within the ear (which control your ability to hear), which combine to put the individual at greater risk of hearing loss.
Often, sudden hearing loss or even sudden changes to your hearing, may actually be one of the first symptoms of diabetes to appear which is something people are surprised to hear.
HOW LOW BLOOD SUGARS CAN IMPACT HEARING LOSS
Low blood sugar can also cause hearing loss by creating a chemical imbalance in the fluid located within the ear. Over time, low blood sugar levels can also damage the nerve signals that travel from the inner ear to your brain, which also leads to hearing loss.
EAR INFECTIONS AND DIABETES
Did you know, those suffering with diabetes are at a higher risk of various ear infections? One common ear infection which is caused by bacteria, and effects the external ear canal, is only ever found in those with diabetes. Sudden hearing loss is also a sign or symptom of this particular ear infection, which if left untreated can spread.
Excess or high levels of insulin in the body is also something that poses a higher risk of internal ear infections. To avoid both these types of infections it’s important to control and monitor insulin levels regularly and go for check-ups.
TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR EARS FOR THOSE WITH DIABETES
- - Monitor and control blood sugar levels regularly
- - Exercise
- - Seek professional treatment as soon as possible if you experience any infection or issues with your ears or hearing
- - Protect your ears by limiting its exposure to high levels of noise for prolonged periods
- - Quit smoking
OTHER POSSIBLE CAUSES OF SUDDEN HEARING LOSS
Diabetes is just one possible cause of sudden hearing loss. Without an appropriate diagnosis it’s impossible to figure out exactly the cause, so we would always advise seeking professional advice If you experience sudden hearing loss. However, other possible causes include:
- - Blood pressure issues
- - Blood circulation issues
- - Autoimmune diseases
- - Tissue growth in the ear
- - Obstruction in the ear e.g., earwax
- - Ear infections
SUDDEN HEARING LOSS TREATMENT
If caught early, sudden hearing loss, whether caused by diabetes, infections, or anything from the list above, is usually able to be returned to normal levels providing the cause is effectively managed and addressed swiftly. How quick the issue is addressed and how efficiently it’s discovered and treated really are the key factors to the success. It is possible for some of these issues to result in permanent harm and damage, including diabetes, so it’s vitally important to get professional help as soon as possible.
Sudden hearing loss can come completely out of the blue, but regular hearing screenings may detect the issue sooner before it becomes a bigger issue. With both hearing loss and diabetes, the sooner you begin to manage it the better the results.
AUDIOLOGY MEDICAL SERVICES
If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one’s hearing, we are here to help you through this challenging process and help limit the impact it makes on your life. To make an appointment to talk to one of Audiology Medical Services’ clinically trained professional audiologists, available at clinics nationwide, freephone 1800 501 501.