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Does Your Thyroid Affect Your Hearing

The Thyroid Is A Small Gland But It Helps Coordinate Many Of Your Body’s Activities From Metabolism And Weight To Hair Thickness And Sweating

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Maybe you’ve heard people say, “I’m tired because I have a thyroid problem.” Or, “I see an endocrinologist because I have thyroid issues.” But how much do you really know about your thyroid?

The thyroid is a small gland that is butterfly shaped and located at the base of the neck, just below the Adam’s apple. It’s part of the endocrine system, which helps coordinate many of your body’s activities. The gland makes hormones that regulate your metabolism. But when it’s not working right, your body can be affected in various ways.

You don’t produce enough hormone. Hypothyroidism is also known as Hashimoto’s disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. It is most common in middle-aged women, but Hashimoto’s disease can happen at any age. Here, your immune system mistakenly attacks and slowly destroys the thyroid gland and its ability to make hormones. Treatment may include taking daily medication and monitoring the dosage to ensure you’re taking the right amount. Your doctor may pass on medication and take a wait-and-see-approach.

You produce too much hormone. Hyperthyroidism is also known as Graves’ disease. This autoimmune disorder happens when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland. It’s hereditary and is most common in women ages 20 to 30. Some treatments include radioactive iodine therapy , prescription antithyroid medications , beta blockers or surgery to remove all or part of your thyroid.

Thyroid & Your Cervical Spine

Damage or misalignment of that vertebra C7 can come from all types of conditions including herniated disc, bulging disc, scoliosis, spondylosis, dehydrated disks, degenerative disk disease, bone spurs, spinal cord infection, stiff ligaments, spinal cord injury, neck sprain, whiplash, fracture, neck arthritis, osteoporosis, cervical spinal fusion surgery, dislocation.

In 2014, the Journal of Craniovertebral Junction & Spine published a case report of a 21-year-old girl admitted to the hospital for chronic neck pain lasting 6 months. She presented with clinical features of hyperthyroidism including tachycardia, anxiety, and poor mental function. Testing revealed tuberculosis infection of the spine, termed Kochs spine, that had damaged her cervical spine especially at C7. Following surgery that involved removal of C7, this young girl went into thyroid storm, a severe and potentially life-threatening complication of hyperthyroidism.

And this topic invovles all forms of thyroid disease. At the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in 2014, thousands of rheumatologists met to review the latest advances in research. One of the studies presented was titled Autoimmune Thyroid Disease Is Associated with a Higher Frequency of Spinal Degenerative Disc Disease.

The cervical spine consists of 7 bones, labeled C1 to C7, and C7 is the last one . Its the one that sits at the base of your neck.

Diagnosing And Treating Hearing Loss Secondary To Hashimoto’s

We know that the thyroid gland affects every organ system in our body. And when we have too little thyroid hormone circulating in our bloodstream, it can disrupt some of our most essential functions, including metabolism, growth and development, reproduction, and even cognitive function. If you have Hashimoto’s, you not only need to combat low thyroid hormones but also manage thyroid autoimmunity, which can wreak havoc in organs beyond your thyroid.

If you notice that you are struggling with hearing loss and have Hashimoto’s, you must make sure you are on the right thyroid medication dose. People with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s must take thyroid hormone medication. Some studies find that the hearing of people with untreated hypothyroidism and symptoms of hearing loss improves when they start levothyroxine therapy. Meet with your thyroid doctor to verify that you are on the right dose of thyroid medication.

Of course, hearing loss may also be from many other factors unrelated to your thyroid. Some causes of hearing loss include:

  • Inner ear damage
  • Infection
  • Abnormal bone growths or tumors
  • Ruptured eardrum
  • Ear wax build-up or a foreign body in the external canal

You are likely to be referred to a hearing specialist who will perform a physical exam of your ear and perform general screening tests that may include the following:

  • A whisper test
  • Tuning fork tests
  • Audiometer tests

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Thyroid & Hearing Loss

Located at the front of your neck, below the larynx, the thyroid is part of the endocrine system and secretes hormones regulating the way our bodies use energy. It uses iodine from food to produce two hormones known as T3 and T4, and the production of too much or too little of either hormone is what characterizes thyroid disease.

How this affects hearing loss is still a mystery, but the link is undisputed. Thyroid disorders such as Pendred syndrome, Grave’s disease, and Hashimoto’s disease either cause or contribute towards hearing loss, while thyroid cancer can indirectly lead to hearing loss as a side effect of radiation used during treatment.

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The thyroid is a gland that produces hormones that regulate the bodys metabolism. Therefore, any disorder of the thyroid can profoundly affect essential body functions, such as energy level and heartrate. The most common thyroid conditions include:

  • Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid produces too much thyroxine hormone. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include irritability, nervousness, muscle weakness, unexplained weight loss, sleep disturbances, vision problems, and eye irritation.
  • Hypothyroidism, on the other hand, occurs when the thyroid does not produce enough of this hormone. This can cause fatigue, depression, forgetfulness, and weight gain.
  • Goiter, a swelling of the thyroid that can interfere with breathing and swallowing.
  • Thyroid cancer is relatively uncommon compared to other forms of cancer. Thankfully, it usually responds well to treatment with surgery or radiation treatment. However, the latter could damage your hearing .

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What Causes An Overactive Thyroid Gland

The thyroid gland is found in the neck. It produces hormones that are released into the bloodstream to control the body’s growth and metabolism. These hormones are called thyroxine and triiodothyronine.

They affect processes such as heart rate and body temperature, and help convert food into energy to keep the body going.

In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland produces too much thyroxine or triiodothyronine, which speeds up the body’s metabolism.

There are several possible underlying causes, the most common being Graves’ disease, in which the body’s immune system targets the thyroid gland and causes it to produce too much of the thyroid hormones.

The Connection Between Thyroid Disease And Hearing Loss

Thyroid disease can affect a wide range of your bodys functions, including your hearing.

About hearing

An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, but as much as 60 percent of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition. This is because symptoms of thyroid disease, which can include weight changes, headaches, chronic fatigue, or heart palpitations, are varied and are often confused with other health problems. Certain types of thyroid disease and treatments can also affect your hearing.

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How To Enhance Hearing Protection

Because ear sensitivity can occur for a variety of reasons, its best to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis.

If you suspect a connection with a thyroid issue, seek an endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in the endocrine system, particularly hormones.

You may undergo a series of blood and auditory tests to confirm the connection. Usually, to deal with hormone problems, the doctor may prescribe medications or hormone replacement therapy .

For a more holistic approach to treating your ear sensitivity, LIV Health offers a personalized healthcare plan.

You can also reduce the symptoms of your ear problem by:

  • Limiting exposure to noises with high decibel levels
  • Undergoing cognitive-behavioral therapy if the reason is due to mental health issues like PTSD or anxiety
  • Opting for sound therapy or ear retraining such as exposure to pink noise or white noise to improve hearing response
  • Treating the root cause of hypothyroidism, including mineral and vitamin deficiencies

What is cognitive-behavioral therapy? It is a type of psychotherapy that emphasizes the changing of a persons negative thoughts or behavior.

What is pink noise? It is a color noise deeper than white noise, such as the rustling of leaves. Since the noise spreads, it doesnt hurt the ears.

Have you experienced hearing problem symptoms due to hypothyroidism? Share your experience with us in the comments below.

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    If your thyroid gland isnt working quite right, this could lead to lots of problems. Your thyroid produces important hormones that regulate many functions in your body. If your thyroid is having problems, you could experience weight gain, a lack of energy, mood challenges, and other symptoms.

    If you suspect you have a thyroid problem, Dr. Vandana Kumra and her team at ENT New York can give you a thorough exam and put you on the path to better health.

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    Hypothyroidism And Hearing Problems

    Contrary to hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism is a condition characterized by the underactive thyroid gland and insufficient production of T3 and T4 hormones.

    Men and women with this common condition have a wide range of symptoms such as weight gain, high cholesterol, hair loss, mood swings, among others. A growing body of evidence confirms that untreated hypothyroidism impairs hearing, but little is known about all the underlying mechanisms.

    For instance, Lichtenberger-Geslin et al. found that patients with congenital hypothyroidism can develop hearing problems, usually around the age of seven and many of them require hearing support in early adulthood.

    While we have already discussed that hypothyroidism and hearing problems are associated with both adults and children, the underlying mechanisms that link the two issues are not fully elucidated.

    Efficient ear function requires normal levels of various hormones including thyroid hormones, estrogen, cortisol , vasopressin , and aldosterone .

    Why is this important?

    Well, in addition to the impaired balance of thyroid hormones, patients with hypothyroidism also exhibit abnormalities in their electrolytes. As a result, the function of the inner ear which depends on the balance of electrolytes and hormones weakens.

    Nerves Thyroid & Other Body Parts

    You see, the nerves linked to the thyroid gland can be mapped down the spine specifically to, you guessed it, C7. And misalignment of C7 can cause pinching of the nerves to the thyroid gland. Look again at that image above and think about it for a moment. C7 is right at the base of the back of the neck and your thyroid gland is right at the base of the front of the neck. Pretty darn close, right.

    In 2015, the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association published a case report of a 29-year-old woman brought to the emergency room for psychosis caused by hypothyroidism, or myxedema madness. She had a 3-year history of chronic pain ever since a waterskiing accident followed by cervical spine fusions of the C4-C5 and C6-C7. The patients hypothyroidism was believed to be caused by a somatovisceral reflex dysfunction related to disruption of the nerves in the region of her cervical spine. While in the ER, imaging of the patients cervical spine showed that her previous spinal fusion surgeries had failed. When the failed fusions were surgically corrected, the patients hypothyroidism resolved. Two years after the successful refusions of her cervical spine, the woman was pain free no longer requiring pain medications and no longer requiring thyroid treatment.

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    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 , mild to moderate , of the sensorineural type , 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 Hashimotos disease, is now undeniable.

    Characteristics Of The Hearing Impairment

    How to tell if you

    The characteristics of the hearing impairment were obtained from an additional questionnaire for 69 patients. Audiograms were available and abstracted for 37 of these patients. There were no baseline differences in age at diagnosis, disease severity, as assessed by bone maturation delay and FT4 levels at diagnosis, and CH etiology or treatment adequacy during childhood between patients with a second questionnaire and/or audiograms and those without such data . Of the 69 patients, 12 had a hearing aid , which was introduced at a median age of 10 years.

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    Thyroid And Parathyroid Disorders

    The Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Michigan is a leader in diagnosing, treating and rehabilitating patients with thyroid and parathyroid diseases, one of the five areas that otolaryngology treats. In addition, patients with these disorders are cared for by experts from endocrinology, endocrine surgery, nuclear medicine, radiation and medical oncology, radiology, genetics, and pathology.

    University of Michigan’s team of multidisciplinary specialists is focused on reaching accurate diagnosis through comprehensive testing and providing the best treatment options for each patient. We are often referred patients with very complex issues and are constantly evaluating latest research findings with newest techniques and therapies to offer our patients the best care possible.

    Its All Connected: Surprising Ways Your Health Affects Your Hearing

    In honor of World Health Day on April 7, 2019, lets take a look at some surprising ways your physical health can impact your hearing health.

    If youve recently been diagnosed with hearing loss, consider asking your physician or dentist about these other issues so you can keep on top of your overall health.

    Cardiovascular Health

    Its been demonstrated many times over in the last few decades that heart health affects hearing health. But how? In your inner ear are tiny cells called hair cells. These convert sound into electrical signals that are sent to your brain to be interpreted. When you have cardiovascular problems, your heart cant pump well enough for your hair cells to get sufficient blood, so they end up damaged or destroyed. As you lose hair cells, you lose hearing ability.


    Hearing loss is roughly twice as prevalent in those with diabetes compared to those without diabetes. Why does it affect your hearing? Diabetes narrows the main artery running to your inner ear, compromising the blood supply to your hair cells. It can also damage the nerve that sends sound information from your inner ear to your brain.

    Oral Health

    Thyroid Health

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    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 which causes early hearing loss in children, also often leads to the development of goiter.
    • Graves Disease, one of the known causes of hyperthyroidism
    • Hashimotos Disease, known as a common cause of hypothyroidism

    On the other hand, radiation treatment for thyroid cancer may also 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.

    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.

    Diagnosis Of Thyroid And Parathyroid Disorders

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    Our specialists diagnose thyroid and parathyroid disorders through comprehensive testing that starts with a complete history and physical exam, and is followed by blood work, an important step in identifying the disorder.

    Depending on the specific problem, we may conduct an ultrasound of the neck to identify abnormalities. Ultrasounds also allow us to guide a needle biopsy, if necessary, to evaluate nodules or lymph nodes in the neck. Other imaging tests that may be ordered include CAT scan, MRI, and nuclear medicine tests such as radioiodine scans and PET scans.

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    Common Thyroid Symptoms You Probably Arent Aware Of

    The following symptoms are fairly common among those with thyroid disease even if theyre a surprise to you.

    Other symptoms of thyroid disease include hoarseness, mood swings, fertility problems, peripheral neuropathy, constipation, poor temperature regulation, muscle weakness, eye pain and pressure, vertigo, depression, headaches, shortness of breath and wounds that heal slowly.

    If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and havent been diagnosed with thyroid disease, we suggest contacting your Portland ENT specialist for an examination.

    Brief Overview Of How The Ear Works

    The ear is part of your sensorineural system that delivers information about external sounds and balance. Anatomically, your ear has three key areas that help perform these functions: the external ear, middle ear, and inner ear.

    The external ear is the outer portion of your ear that you can see or feel with a Q-tip. This part of the ear serves to amplify and transmit sounds to the tympanic membrane , which is highly sensitive to sound waves and pressure changes.

    The middle ear is on the inside of the tympanic membrane. It contains the oval window, eustachian tube, and three small bones: the hammer , anvil , and stirrup . Vibrations from the eardrum are transmitted by the small bones in the middle ear to the oval window to amplify sound waves. Meanwhile, the inner ear is also responsible for equalizing pressure. It is where you feel pressure changes when you gain elevation rapidly.

    The inner ear is comprised of the labyrinth, cochlea, auditory nerve, and the vestibular. The labyrinth is essentially a maze that contains each of these small organs that transmit sound to your brain and help you detect different body movements. The vestibular, in particular, is responsible for maintaining balance.

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