Nearly 60% of the estimated 20 million Americans who have thyroid disease aren’t aware that they have the condition. Another thing they may not know is that thyroid disease can impact your hearing. Since January is Thyroid Awareness Month, now’s the perfect time to learn more about the thyroid and your ears.
What Does the Thyroid Do?
The thyroid, a small butterfly-shaped gland in the back of your throat, produces thyroid hormones (TH) responsible for regulating many of the body’s daily functions. Every tissue and organ in the human body is affected by the thyroid:
- When too little or too much TH is produced, your health can be affected.
- Hypothyroidism occurs when too little TH is produced, leading to weight gain, fatigue and depression.
- Hyperthyroidism occurs when too much TH is produced, causing faster heart rate, weight loss and tremors.
The Thyroid and Hearing Health
Research is still ongoing, but both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism have been linked to hearing loss. According to one study conducted in Taiwan, patients with a history of either condition were more likely to experience sudden sensorineural hearing loss.
In addition, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism published a study connecting hearing loss with hypothyroidism. The study found that people with congenital (present at birth) hypothyroidism were three times more likely to self-declare hearing loss than the reference population and that 17% of these affected patients required hearing support in early adulthood.
Even the treatment of thyroid problems can wreak havoc on your hearing. Thyroid cancer patients who undergo radiation therapy may experience hearing loss, while patients who use the thyroid eye disease drug Tepezza report hearing dysfunction as a side effect.
If you have questions about hearing loss, please contact S.E. Wisconsin Hearing Center today to see how hearing aids can help!