Most of us have encountered hearing loss in some way or other, perhaps through personal experience or through interactions with an elderly relative. But thyroid disease may not be something you are so familiar with, despite 20 million Americans suffering from it. You may therefore be surprised to find out that thyroid disease can cause hearing loss.
To mark Thyroid Awareness Month, we wanted to give you the lowdown on thyroid disease so you can take action to protect your thyroid and ultimately protect your hearing.
So let’s get started with the essentials:
What is the thyroid?
It’s a gland that sits below your voice box and produces two hormones, known as T3 and T4. These hormones control your metabolism, which means they are vital for a whole bunch of bodily processes including digestion, muscle control, mood changes and maintaining energy levels.
What is thyroid disease?
This is when your thyroid gland produces too much or too little of the hormones, T3 and T4.
What are the symptoms of thyroid disease?
There are lots of different symptoms owing to the fact that the thyroid gland is important in so many bodily processes. In hypothyroidism, where too little hormone is produced, symptoms include weight gain, fatigue, forgetfulness and depression. In hyperthyroidism, where too much hormone is produced, symptoms include muscle weakness, weight loss, irritability, sleeplessness and anxiety.
What is the link between thyroid disease and hearing loss?
Some, but not all, types of thyroid disease, including Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s disease and Pendred Syndrome, are known to cause hearing loss. No one as yet knows how or why. When it comes to thyroid cancer, the treatment to cure the cancer is what damages cells in the ears, resulting in hearing loss.
What can you do to protect your thyroid gland?
Eating well is a good start. Avoid junk foods and eat foods rich in antioxidants, such as squash, tomatoes and blueberries. Also cut down on eating raw cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and kale; instead, cook them.
Exercise is another way to protect your thyroid gland. Try doing 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. It will get your circulation going and boost your thyroid function.
The next two tips should only be taken with the advice and input of your doctor. The hormones your thyroid gland makes need iodine as a key ingredient. If you aren’t getting enough iodine in your diet, your thyroid gland will struggle to make those hormones. Iodized salt and foods fortified with iodine, such as eggs and dairy products can help boost low iodine levels. Vitamin and mineral supplements can also support your thyroid gland, specifically selenium, iron, vitamin A and vitamin D.
Who should you turn to if you’re worried about your thyroid and your hearing?
If you are concerned that you have thyroid disease you should contact your doctor who can carry out tests to check the health of your thyroid. If you are also experiencing symptoms of hearing loss, then it is time to get an Audiologist involved too, whether or not you get a diagnosis of thyroid disease.
At Acadian Hearing, our Audiologists in Louisiana are waiting to help you with your hearing health.
Dr. Heidi J. Sorrells obtained her doctorate degree from Salus University in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Minot State University in Minot, North Dakota. She is a certified Audiologist by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and she holds a Louisiana and a Texas Audiology License. Dr. Sorrells enjoys all aspects of working in a private practice audiology clinic but especially loves the challenges of vestibular (balance) assessment and rehabilitation.