How Your Thyroid Gland Affects Your Tinnitus
Your thyroid is a small butterfly shaped endocrine gland in your throat. Its primary responsibility is to regulate your metabolism and also control your bodys growth and development. It does this by producing a hormone called Thyroxine. When theres too much or too little thyroxine, a lot of things start to go haywire. Since this post is about exploring the thyroid and Tinnitus condition, we will not get into fatigue, weight gain, confusion or any of the other common symptoms of having a thyroid condition. Well focus on Tinnitus.
What is Your Tinnitus Handicap Score?
Signs And Symptoms Of Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid cancer can cause any of the following signs or symptoms:
- A lump in the neck, sometimes growing quickly
- Swelling in the neck
- Pain in the front of the neck, sometimes going up to the ears
- Hoarseness or other voice changes that do not go away
- Trouble swallowing
- Trouble breathing
- A constant cough that is not due to a cold
If you have any of these signs or symptoms, talk to your doctor right away. Many of these symptoms can also be caused by non-cancerous conditions or even other cancers of the neck area. Lumps in the thyroid are common and are usually benign. Still, if you have any of these symptoms, its important to see your doctor so the cause can be found and treated, if needed.
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Davidge-Pitts CJ and Thompson GB. Chapter 82: Thyroid Tumors. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and RosenbergsCancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2015.
National Cancer Institute. Physician Data Query . Thyroid Cancer Treatment. 05/23/2018. Accessed at https://www.cancer.gov/types/thyroid/patient/thyroid-treatment-pdq#_1. on February 20, 2019.
Last Revised: March 14, 2019
Can Hypothyroidism Cause Ringing In The Ears
- Brief review of how the ear works
- Can hypothyroidism cause ringing in the ears?
- How is tinnitus treated in people with hypothyroidism?
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ situated at the nape of your neck. Although small in size, this organ plays an influential role in regulating your bodyâs metabolism, growth, and development. More specifically, the thyroid produces hormones that control the rate at which your body utilizes energy and protein synthesis. When the thyroid cannot produce enough thyroid hormone to control these processes, it can lead to hypothyroidism, which is characterized by a general slowing of many body functions.
Thyroid Symptoms In The Ear
My ears feel full. I cant explain it. Its like when water clogs your ears while swimming. Im constantly jiggling my earlobe and shaking my head to the side to unclog it but it never unclogs.
I have excessive ear wax. Im certain it started after my thyroidectomy but doctors tell me they are not connected.
I find myself sensitive to noises that never bothered me before.
My hearing deteriorated in the decade I was trying desperately to get help for my thyroid. I now have tinnitus and moderate hearing loss.
My ears are itchy and its maddening!
I had a constant humming in my ears. Told it was tinnitus but it went away a few months after starting natural desiccated thyroid.
The hissing sounds in my ears have gotten louder over the months. It overwhelms me at times. I cant properly sleep because the sound is always there.
The constant pumping in my ears is directly related to my levothyroxine dose. The more doctors reduce my dose, the more raging the sound becomes.
Im afraid that Im losing my hearing in both ears but mostly one side.
I think my thyroid medication is too high. My heart started racing and my hands shake. I started to hear a heartbeat sound in my ears like a whooshing sound.
I have hyperthyroidism and I hear a strange swoosh sound in my ears, swoosh, swoosh, swoosh.
My hearing loss started soon after I began treatment for TED Thyroid Eye Disease with the new prescription drug Teprotumumab.
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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Ear Fullness Earwax & Noise Sensitivity
Excessive earwax. A feeling of ear fullness or pressure. Sensitivity to noises, even everyday sounds like the sound of people chewing, drinking, or breathing can be so maddening. I know these are vague and not much research has been done specifically on them but I hear from enough hypothyroid people with these complaints that I know they just cant be a coincidence.
In my 15 year journey with hypothyroidism, Ive made a point of collecting my thyroid lab results and recording my hypothyroidism symptoms every time. In this way I have identified my own optimal ranges. My optimal Free T3 is near the very top of the Free T3 normal reference range. Thats when my hypothyroidism symptoms disappear and I feel wonderful. Using this simple method, I know exactly when my Free T3 falls to the middle or bottom of the normal reference range by the start of certain key symptoms. In my case, I begin to experience constipation, belly fat, face swelling, skin paleness, insomnia, carpal tunnel syndrome, headache, fatigue, and buildup of ear wax whenever my Free T3 starts falling too low. They are like red flags waving in the air straight at me warning me that I need an increase in my thyroid medication dosage.
What are your red flags? Were all different so your early warning signals may be different. I wonder if buildup of ear wax is one of them for you.
How To Treat Tinnitus Caused By Thyroid Dysfunction
Treating hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism can possibly reduce or even resolve your Tinnitus. Though there is no guarantee, correcting your thyroid levels is something you must do anyway, to optimize your health and longevity. If the Tinnitus subsides as a result, it will be a welcome bonus. So, how is hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism treated?
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Teprotumumab For Thyroid Eye Disease Ted
On January 21, 2020, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Teprotumumab for the treatment of Thyroid Eye Disease TED. A little more than a year after becoming the first and only FDA-approved therapy for the treatment of thyroid eye disease, new research sounded the alarm on the potential risk of hearing loss. A study presented at the Endocrine Societys Annual Meeting ENDO 2021 indicated that more than 50% of patients receiving this new treatment experienced hearing loss symptoms.
How Ear Sensitivity Is Affected By Hypothyroidism
- Liv HEALTH Team
Ear sensitivity is one symptom in the long list of symptoms of hypothyroidism you have to look out for. Have you ever experienced sudden sensitivity to sound, fluctuating hearing abilities, ringing in your ears, or hearing loss?
Then it is time to consult your doctor and hearing care professional to talk about treatment. Make an appointment and have your thyroid checked as soon as possible if you experience any of the symptoms listed below.
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Theories Linking Hypothyroidism Hyperthyroidism And Tinnitus
We say theories because that is what they are. Medical research is ongoing but doctors and scientists have not been able to put an exact finger on why thyroid dysfunction causes or worsens Tinnitus. The following are the four plausible theories.
Erratic blood pressure
Hypothyroidism can cause a case of secondary hypertension. Low thyroid levels can weaken the heart and make it pump slowly. With less blood being pumped through the bodys circulatory system, blood vessels begin to stiffen and narrow. This leads to a increase in blood pressure. Increased blood pressure can affect the ears as the middle and inner ears are sensitive to blood pressure changes.
Similarly, hyperthyroidism can also cause blood pressure to spike. With too much thyroxine, the heart needlessly works harder. Hyperthyroidism can also cause a bruit or clot that can then result in pulsatile Tinnitus. Pulsatile tinnitus is when you hear a whooshing type sound that correlates with your heartbeat. Unlike regular Tinnitus, your doctor might be able to hear your pulsatile Tinnitus as well.
How Severe is Your Tinnitus?
Find out by using this THI Scoring Calculator
Disruption of other Hormones
Poor Electrolyte Transportation
Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency
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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How Is Tinnitus Treated In People With Hypothyroidism
Treating the cause of tinnitus is the key when there is an underlying medical condition. Hypothyroidism requires life-long thyroid hormone replacement medication. After performing a thyroid blood test to look at your thyroid hormones, your doctor will likely put you on a thyroid hormone replacement medication. It can take different doses and a few weeks to months to find the right drug and dosage that best supports your body.
Once you are on the correct amount of medication, you will likely experience a significant improvement in your hypothyroid symptoms, including:
Some lifestyle habits may cause tinnitus, including excess alcohol consumption, smoking cigarettes, and caffeinated beverages. Chronic stress and anxiety can also cause tinnitus. Try to limit unhealthy habits, manage stress levels, and avoid exposure to loud noises.
Keep in mind that tinnitus is a nebulous symptom that can be caused by several factors. Treating hypothyroidism is an excellent start to improving ringing in your ears. However, if this frustrating symptom persists after treating your thyroid, meet with a doctor specializing in treating tinnitus to learn what may be causing your particular case.
Other Possible Causes Of Hearing Loss And Sensitivity
Hypothyroidism isnt the only possible explanation for ear sensitivity and hearing loss. These can also occur due to the following conditions:
- Central auditory processing disorder, a hearing problem common among school-aged children characterized by the poor coordination between the brain and ears
- Menieres disease, an auditory condition affecting one of the inner ears
- Canal dehiscence, an opening in the bone that covers one of the inner ears canals
- Temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ syndrome, pain that affects the lower jaw, which may be due to facial nerve injury
Other common reasons may be:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Note: People with hypothyroidism may also have anxiety disorders or depression. Meanwhile, ear sensitivity may lead to social isolation, which can worsen symptoms of anxiety or depression.
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The Connection Between Ear Sensitivity And Hearing
Why are people with hypothyroidism prone to ear sensitivity in the first place?
In reality, no study officially confirms the relationship or fully understands the link. Some types of research point out the association among autoimmune diseases.
A 2010 study in Maedica reported that those with symptoms or diagnoses of an autoimmune condition may also experience other kinds of autoimmune diseases.
It doesnt show a cause-and-effect relationship. However, a person with mild hearing loss or eardrum issues due to an autoimmune ear disease may increase their risk of hypothyroidism and vice versa.
Another possible reason is the link between thyroid hormones and the cochlea.
The cochlea is the snail-shaped organ in the inner ear that receives the sound vibrations. Its the thousands of hair cells, though, that convert these sounds into nerve impulses the brain receives and interprets.
In the 2018 mice research, the cochlea needs thyroid hormones to develop properly.
Further, the animals with genetic mutations affecting thyroid hormone transporters experienced problems in the maturity of the auditory system. It also resulted in the degeneration of the cochlear hair cells.
Tinnitus Hypothyroidism & Hyperthyroidism
Ringing, whistling, buzzing, humming, hissing, chirping, roaring, clicking, fluttering, tapping, crackling, bubbling, ticking, twitching, blowing, thumping, or even shrieking in the ears. Thats how so many of my Hypothyroid Mom readers describe the annoying sound of tinnitus. The ringing may be loud or soft, high or low pitched, in one ear of both, and more pronounced when there is no other sound in the room. Tinnitus has been found in patients with hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and autoimmune thyroiditis. In a 2022 study, researchers found that hypothyroidism increases the risk of developing tinnitus when associated with comorbidities including vertigo, hearing loss, and insomnia. Tinnitus may be the first sign of hearing loss.
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What Is Tinnitus
Tinnitus is the medical term for âringing in the ears.â Although it is not a serious medical condition, it can impact your quality of life. People can experience tinnitus at any point in their lives, especially after exposure to loud noises. Sometimes, tinnitus occurs in healthy people for no apparent reason. In contrast, other times, tinnitus may relate to an underlying medical condition or trauma.
The cause of tinnitus is not well understood. This frustrating symptom may result from dysfunction or damage to the nerves that transmit information between the ears and brain. These nerves are responsible for delivering sound and providing information about balance to the body. However, as you will see below, the ear is a highly complex organ where damage could occur in several places, leading to trouble hearing and persistent noise.