The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland found in the front of the neck below the larynx, or voice box, and has two lobes, one on each side of the windpipe. It’s part of an intricate network of glands called the endocrine system. The endocrine system is responsible for coordinating many of your body’s activities. The thyroid gland manufactures hormones that regulate your body’s metabolism.
Several different disorders can arise when your thyroid produces too much hormone (hyperthyroidism) or not enough (hypothyroidism) including hearing loss.
Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones to meet the needs of the body. The thyroid is under active. Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism, or the way the body uses energy. If thyroxine levels are low, many of the body’s functions slow down. It is an endocrine gland, made up of special cells that make hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers that relay information to the organs and tissues of the body, controlling processes such as metabolism, growth, and mood. The production of thyroid hormones is regulated by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which is made by the pituitary gland. This, in turn, is regulated by the hypothalamus, a region of the brain. TSH ensures that enough thyroid hormones are made to meet the needs of the body.
The link between your thyroid and your ears
Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism have been linked to hearing loss. Research into why is ongoing, but the following thyroid conditions are known to affect hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance:
Pendred Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes early hearing loss in children, also often leads to the development of goiter.
Grave’s Disease, one of the known causes of hyperthyroidism
Hashimoto’s Disease, known as a common cause of hypothyroidism
On the other hand, radiation treatment for thyroid cancer may also cause hearing loss. Studies have shown that patients who undergo radiation therapy for cancer in the head or neck, such as thyroid cancer, appear more likely to experience hearing loss.
A national emergency
An estimated 20 million Americans have thyroid disease and unfortunately as many as 60% of them don’t know it. That isn’t because they haven’t noticed they aren’t feeling quite right but rather because the symptoms are so varied and widespread that it can be hard to get a clear diagnosis. Lots of other conditions instead get the blame when it is in fact the thyroid gland that is in trouble. If you are experiencing systemic but seemingly random health problems, talk to your doctor about ruling out thyroid disease. Ensuring a healthy supply of thyroid hormone in your body will contribute to your general well being, including your hearing. And if a required treatment could put your hearing at risk, involve a hearing care professional in your treatment plan who can monitor your hearing along the way in order to minimize damage.
Look for the signs
Hypothyroidism, or low thyroid, is a common disorder. It can cause a variety of symptoms, such as fatigue, weight gain and feeling cold. It can also result in problems with your hair, skin, muscles, memory or mood. Importantly, none of these problems are unique to hypothyroidism. Yet if you are having several of these symptoms or they are new, worsening or severe, see your doctor to decide if you need to be tested for hypothyroidism. Another reason thyroid disease can be hard to diagnose is that those seemingly random symptoms vary even more depending on whether your thyroid gland is producing too much hormone or too little. Fortunately, hypothyroidism is generally treatable with inexpensive medications. If your thyroid hormone levels are low, a simple treatment could greatly improve your quality of life.
My Hearing Centers
If you are struggling with hearing loss now is the time to act. The longer you put off hearing loss, the worse it can get. It’s important to understand that you do not have to live and struggle with hearing loss in private. The sooner you admit you have a problem the sooner we can help you find a solution. Contact us My Hearing Centers to find out more about the link between your thyroid and your hearing. We can test your hearing to detect if there is a problem and help you find the best hearing aid for your hearing needs and lifestyle. Contact us today. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain.