For a diabetic, eye, foot and renal care are always on the checklist. But ENT doctors say that ear care is also important, and even a mild ear infection should not be neglected.

The general rule for diabetics is that any infection should not be ignored. This is because the infection gets aggravated in diabetes, C.R. Anand Moses, former director, Institute of Diabetology, Madras Medical College said.

“Though routine screening of the ears is not necessary, they should not neglect a ear infection. If there is a minor discharge from the ears, it should be treated aggressively,” he said.

T. Balasubramanian, professor and head, Department of ENT, Government Stanley Medical College Hospital, said that diabetes causes microangiopathy – block in small blood vessels. “If the blood sugar levels are not under control, the micro circulation in the inner ear, that is the cochlea, will be affected. Diabetes could cause sensory neural deafness, which leads to irreparable damage to hearing,” he explained.

It is here that checking for glycoslyated haemoglobin level could help. “Diabetics should check their levels once in a month,” he said.

Though rare, malignant Otitis Externa — infection of the external ear with excruciating pain — could worsen and become untreatable due to uncontrolled diabetes. It could cause damage to the skull base, doctors said.

“Diabetics should not clean their ears with any object, including cotton bud. If it causes injuries, it could lead to ulcer formation. In malignant Otitis Externa, the infection could spread to the brain,” K. Ravi, professor of ENT, Government Kilpauk Medical College Hospital said.

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