Hypothyroidism & Hearing Loss

Hypothyroidism & Hearing Loss

In Hearing Loss by Dr. Robert Hooper Au.D.

If you’ve never given much thought to your thyroid or what it is, you may be surprised at how important it is for you and your total well-being. Your thyroid is a gland responsible for controlling the body’s metabolic rate, or the speed in which your body expends energy or burns calories. 

This has a serious impact on controlling heart, muscle function, digestive health, brain development, bone strength, and even hearing ability. When your thyroid is functioning correctly then you most likely have never given it a second thought, but if you are dealing with hyperthyroidism, then you begin to realize how important a healthy thyroid is for your total health.

What is the thyroid and how does it work?

The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland, located at the front of the neck just below the larynx. In most cases it cannot be seen but can be felt when you place a finger to the neck. 

A healthy operation of the thyroid relies a lot on what you eat. A healthy supply of iodine from foods like fish, dairy and iodized salt are incorporated into thyroid hormones which controls the release and absorption of iodine into the blood. 

Thyroid hormones are released throughout the body and controlled by a gland called the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland produces and sends out a hormone called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which regulates appropriate levels of hormones from the thyroid depending on how much your body requires.

What is Hypothyroidism?

Your thyroid produces thyroid hormone, which controls many activities in your body, including the speed in which you burn calories and your heart rate. Diseases of the thyroid such as hypothyroidism cause the thyroid to to make too much or too little of hormones, which are essential for regulating metabolism and heart rate. 

Hypothyroidism, also called underactive thyroid, occurs when your thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormones. When these hormones are out of balance it can make you feel tired, restless and cause weight fluctuations. Hypothyroidism particularly affects women after pregnancy or menopause but affects men as well.

The connection between hypothyroidism and hearing loss

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid does not create enough of the hormone thyroxine, causing fatigue, absent mindedness, depression and weight gain.  Thyroxine is also an important hormone in hearing health. Research from The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism shows that half of all people dealing with hypothyroidism also struggle with hearing loss. The cochlea of the inner ear, as well as the middle ear rely on the thyroid to supply hormones which coordinate  cell and tissue health important for healthy hearing. The study found that patients with hypothyroidism were 3 times more likely to report hearing loss than those without. The study also found that the onset of hearing loss was much earlier for patients with hypothyroidism in 17% of cases.

Thyroid cancer and hearing loss

One of the main risk factors of hypothyroidism is  developing thyroid cancer. When the thyroid under-produces hormones due to thyroid cancer, the inner ear can suffer from the deficiency, harming the fragile hairs and cells of the inner ear responsible for sending sound information to the brain. When oxygen or other essential resources are lacking due to a hormone imbalance, then the inner ear can be damaged permanently, causing lifelong hearing loss.

Regular Hearing Tests

If you have a thyroid condition, then it is important to understand how this can also affect your hearing. Hearing loss is not just an ear issue but a quality of life issue. When you struggle to hear, it is difficult to connect to the people in your life, feel confident navigating the world on your own and even deal with memory issues down the road. 

Hearing loss is usually a much later side effect of hypothyroidism. If you have been diagnosed with a hypothyroidism then don’t let the possibility of hearing loss go unchecked. Make sure to have your hearing tested to monitor for hearing loss. 

Hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids. Hearing aids can help you hear the sounds in your life you are struggling with and help you feel more connected to those you love. Make an appointment for a hearing test today and experience the benefits of improved hearing!