Connection between thyroid and hearing

Thyroid, plugged ears, tinnitus and ear problems

The thyroid is a gland that produces the hormones that regulate body's metabolism. A malfunctioning thyroid can significantly affect some body functions such as energy level, heart rate, central nervous system, and even hearing.

What is the thyroid?

The thyroid is an endocrine gland that produces the hormones that regulate the metabolism of the human body. It is located at the front of the neck, in front of the trachea and consists of two joined lobes that give it the "butterfly" shape.

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Main thyroid diseases

Thyroid disorders can seriously affect some body functions such as energy level, heart rate, and central nervous system. In addition, the thyroid can also be affected by morphological changes. Let's see the main thyroid disorders: 

  • Hyperthyroidism: this is a disorder associated with the excessive production of thyroid hormones. The most common symptoms are loss of weight, tachycardia, nervousness, insomnia, and increased sweating. 
  • Hypothyroidism: in this case, the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones for the body's needs. Tiredness, slowed reflexes, reduced appetite, and weight gain are the most common symptoms. 
  • Goiter: this is a protuberance on the neck that can compress adjacent organs, making it difficult even to swallow or breathe. Increased goiter volume can occur in both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Keep in mind that there are also goiters that do not affect thyroid functions.
  • Thyroid nodules: their formation is usually benign, they do not alter thyroid functions and have no symptoms. However, it is always recommended to have a diagnostic evaluation to exclude the possibility of other pathologies. 
  • Thyroid tumors: they can be both malignant and benign. However, with rare exceptions, they are often benign. 
  • Thyroiditis: it refers to the inflammation of the thyroid gland. It can have different causes; the most common form is Hashimoto's thyroiditis which consists of the production of antibodies against the thyroid cells themselves, as a consequence of an anomaly of the immune system. 

The link between the thyroid and ear problems

Thyroid gland and ear problems are linked to each other. In fact, some thyroid disorders are strongly connected to hearing loss and, in some cases, to the appearance of tinnitus.

Thyroid and ear blockage

Inflammation of the thyroid gland can cause the sensation of "plugged ears." Specifically, this is the case of the subacute thyroid which can be initially confused with a sore throat, but it is actually a pain in the neck at the level of the thyroid. This pain can move from one side of the neck to the other, reaching the jaw and up to the ear causing the sensation of plugged ears.

Thyroid and tinnitus

Thyroid and tinnitus may be linked, too. Tinnitus is an ear disorder that occurs as a whistling or buzzing sound, even without external noise. Thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, autoimmune thyroid, and Hashimoto's thyroid can cause tinnitus or increase its risk.  

Thyroid and ear pain

Thyroid can cause ear pain and the other way round. In fact, for people with thyroid problems ear pain could be a symptom of thyroid cancer. Although not so common, thyroid nodules and hypothyroidism can also cause ear pain.  For this reason, if you experience the symptoms listed above, it is recommended to do all the appropriate investigations to rule out any pathology. 

Thyroid and hearing loss

Thyroid and hearing loss can be related from birth. The presence of hypothyroidism (when the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones for the body's needs) can damage the central nervous system compromising the auditory nervous system which leads to hearing loss in both ears. Therefore, early diagnosis is crucial. 

Incidence of hypothyroidism in Meniere's disease

There is a connection between hypothyroidism and Meniere's desease too. Inflammatory or metabolic changes in patients with thyroid diseases may cause inflammation of the inner ear. Meniere's Syndrome is a condition associated with vertigo attacks and tinnitus, and it is related to thyroid hormones levels. 

Hashimoto's thyroiditis and vestibular problems

Hashimoto's thyroiditis is a chronic inflammation of the thyroid gland that is caused by the immune system. Recent studies have demonstrated that there is a link between vestibular system symptoms, such as the occurrence of dizziness, and the Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
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