Hearing loss can be tricky to notice in the very early stages; often, we
Health Series–Thyroid disorders and hearing loss
Happy New Year from Quality Hearing and Audiology Center!
This year we will be focusing on education regarding medical conditions that can have a negative impact on our hearing. Early detection is important and knowing the warning signs of these medical conditions can not only help you identify a potential health problem, but also help prevent hearing loss.
January is Thyroid Awareness Month and we will be discussing the link between your thyroid gland and hearing.
If you have a thyroid disorder, you likely know the wide ranging, negative effects of an imbalanced thyroid. But did you know your thyroid can also impact your hearing and balance? Studies have shown a link between hearing loss and both hyper and hypothyroidism.
What does the thyroid do?
The thyroid gland is located at the front of the neck just below the Adam's apple (larynx). It is butterfly-shaped and consists of two lobes located either side of the windpipe (trachea). A normal thyroid gland is not usually outwardly visible or able to be felt if finger pressure is applied to the neck.
The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate the body's metabolic rate as well as heart and digestive function, muscle control, brain development, mood and bone maintenance. Research is showing that many hormones deficient with thyroid disease are essential for healthy function of the cochlea, our hearing organ. Other studies are showing that the severity of thyroid disease is directly associated with the incidence and severity of hearing loss, tinnitus and dizziness.
What is hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid gland, meaning that the thyroid gland can’t make enough thyroid hormone to keep the body running normally. People are hypothyroid if they have too little thyroid hormone in the blood. Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Mental fogginess or sluggishness
- Depressed mood
- Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding
- Fluid retention, feeling bloated, puffiness in the face
- Joint aches and pains
- Weight gain
- High cholesterol levels
- Feeling cold, or increased sensitivity to cold temperatures
- Dry skin
- Memory problems
- Thinning hair or hair loss
- Slowed heart rate
What is hyperthyroidism?
The term hyperthyroidism refers to any condition in which there is too much thyroid hormone produced in the body. In other words, the thyroid gland is overactive. Signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
Nervousness, tremor, agitation
- Poor concentration
- Reduced menstrual blood flow in women
- Racing heartbeat or palpitations
- Heat intolerance
- Changes in bowel habits, such as more frequent bowel movements
- Enlargement of the thyroid gland
- Skin thinning
- Brittle hair
- Increase in appetite, feeling hungry
Additional Thyroid Disorders
In addition to Hypo and Hyperthyroid disorders, there are several thyroid conditions which have been shown to impact your hearing and balance, and cause tinnitus.
- Pendred Syndrome
- Grave’s Disease
- Hashimoto’s Disease
Research is ongoing but other studies have also shown a connection to hearing loss for patients receiving radiation treatment for thyroid cancer or other cancers of the head and neck.
I have a thyroid condition — Should I have my hearing checked?
Yes! If you have one of the above conditions, it is strongly recommended to have your hearing tested and monitored on a yearly or every-other-year basis. Call Quality Hearing and Audiology Center at 816-233-0022 to schedule a hearing evaluation.
I don’t have a known thyroid condition, but I do have several of these symptoms, what should I do?
If you do not have a diagnosed thyroid disorder, but have noticed systemic health problems or exhibit any of the symptoms below, speak with your physician about ruling out a thyroid disorder.
You and Your Hormones (An Education Resource from the Society of Endocrinology)
American Thyroid Association