The Connection Between Thyroid Disease and Hearing Loss

In order to understand the importance of treating your hearing loss you have to understand how your entire body and how its symptoms are linked together.  Understanding how your body works and its connections can help you to prevent hearing loss. Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause hearing loss, and different thyroid conditions can affect not only hearing loss, but also tinnitus and balance too.

Thyroid disease can affect a wide range of your body’s functions, including your hearing health.

An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Certain types of thyroid disease and treatments can also affect your hearing.  Your thyroid controls the production of your hormones, which regulate your body’s metabolism.

The link between your thyroid and your ears

Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism have been linked to hearing loss. Research into why is still ongoing, but the following thyroid conditions are known to affect hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance:

  • Pendred Syndrome, a genetic disorder which 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.

The Link between Hearing Loss and Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is the result of the thyroid not producing enough of the hormone thyroxine. This can cause depression, fatigue, forgetfulness, and weight gain. Thyroxine is also needed for normal development of the auditory system. In fact, about half of the people with low thyroid function have hearing losses.

The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism published a study linking hearing loss and hypothyroidism. The research study looked at how untreated hypothyroidism is known to impair hearing. The study found:

  • Patients were 3x more likely to self-declare hearing loss than that for the reference population.
  • 17% of affected patients required hearing support in early adulthood
  • Hearing loss was associated with the type of congenital hypothyroidism with disease severity
  • Hearing loss was mostly bilateral (90%), mild to moderate (96%), of the sensorineural type (76%), and compromised higher frequencies.

Whether thyroid disease results in too much or little hormone production, hearing ability can be affected, which can present as hearing loss or tinnitus. Researchers are still looking into why this happens but the link between hearing loss and certain thyroid disorders, including Pendred syndrome, Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s disease, is now undeniable.

Have your hearing tested annually

Hearing loss is typically not one of the first symptoms for either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism which means it’s possible to treat thyroid issues before they impact your hearing.

Your hearing and your health are connected in more ways that anyone realizes, but only you can take control of your hearing. You need to identify changes to your hearing early, so we can help you get back on track and maintain the hearing you still have.