Hypothyroidism & Hearing Loss

Hypothyroidism & Hearing Loss

In hearing health by Laurie Duffy, M.S.

Laurie Duffy, M.S.

There are many reasons you could be feeling cold while other people seem fine or feel fatigue and weight gain. However, it is important to understand that these are all symptoms of hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism, also known as or an underactive thyroid affects approximately 20 million people or Nearly 5 out of 100 Americans ages 12 years and up. It occurs when there is an underproduction of the hormone, thyroxine, which can decrease metabolism. Some of the common symptoms include fatigue, lethargy, or feeling cold weight gain and surprisingly even hearing loss!

All About the Thyroid

To understand what hypothyroidism is, it’s important to understand that it has to do with the thyroid. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck below the voice box. It has two lobes, one on each side of the windpipe and is an essential part of an extensive network of glands that make up the endocrine system. The endocrine system produces hormones responsible for regulating numerous essential body functions such as the metabolism, growth, development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and even mood. 

The thyroid’s role in this system is the creation of hormones which regulate the body’s metabolism. Hormones are the body’s organic chemical messengers which send information to many locations throughout the body, such as the organs and tissue. To ensure that the thyroid is producing the proper amount of hormones for optimal body function, a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), is produced by the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is a small, bean-shaped gland which lies at the base of your brain and is in turn regulated by the hypothalamus.

Hypothyroidism

When the thyroid is underactive, it cannot produce enough hormones to support the body properly. The thyroid produces a hormone called thyroxine which is responsible for the manner in which the body utilizes energy. When thyroxine levels are too low, it causes many of the body’s functions to slow. The thyroid can also be overactive which is called hyperthyroidism. In this case patients may suffer unexpected weight gain, sweating, irritability, and irregular heartbeat.

The Link Between Your Thyroid and your Ears

Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism have been linked to hearing loss. Researchers theorize that this is due to the thyroid’s production of thyroxine. Thyroxine is also needed for normal development of the auditory system. A Study from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism explored how untreated hypothyroidism impairs hearing. The study found that patients with hypothyroidism were 3x more likely to self-declare hearing loss than those without the thyroid condition. They also established being diagnosed with hypothyroidism increased the risk of hearing loss by 50%!

Diagnosing Hypothyroidism

The most common cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Doctors don’t know exactly what triggers Hashimoto’s disease but many suspect that it could be due to environmental factors or other autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Hypothyroidism is a difficult condition to diagnose because the symptoms could be attributed to many things. This has left 60% of those with hypothyroidism in the US unaware of their condition. If you are not feeling your best in many different aspects of your health, such as weight fluctuations, exhaustion and mood swings, talk to your physician about getting tested for thyroid disorders.

Treating Hypothyroidism

The good news is that an underactive thyroid can be treated using medication to raise hormone levels to their proper level. By taking synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine daily, you can restore adequate hormone levels.  You will start to feel better soon after treatment, though you will have to take medication throughout your lifetime to maintain these hormone levels. There are natural remedies such as an intake of supplements and a strict anti-inflammatory diet which has been found to reduce or reverse symptoms.

Keeping Track of Your Hearing Health

If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism it’s important to remember that your hearing could be at risk. Make sure to set up an appointment to have your hearing tested, as your risk goes up by as much as 50%. Untreated hearing loss can lead to many serious health complications down the road, so it’s important to have it diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Take control of your health and your life and schedule a hearing test today!