If you or someone you know has suffered from a thyroid condition, you will be familiar with the enigmatic nature of the organ and the crucial hormone it emits. The thyroid is responsible for regulating many systems in the body, and experts refer to its effect specifically on metabolism. Yet, metabolism is also a rather general descriptor for “the bodily processes needed to maintain life.” How is this related to hearing loss?
Understanding Thyroid Functions
Some of the functions of the thyroid (and metabolism) are to transform food into sugars that are used as energy at the cellular level, to take the oxygen from air and to deliver it throughout the body through the bloodstream, and to make it possible to remove waste substances from the body. All of these chemical processes can happen at a faster or slower rate, and this speed is referred to as the metabolic rate. The thyroid gland and the hormones it secretes are responsible for monitoring and regulating the rate of these myriad processes in the body.
When you think of metabolism, however, you might think first about weight gain. If a person has a high metabolism, they are able to quickly transform food into usable energy and to discard the excess as waste. Someone with a slow metabolism takes a long time to remove nutrients from food, leading to excess storage in the body.
With such an important yet diffuse function in the body, you will not be surprised that disorders of the thyroid can be difficult to understand. One clear piece of evidence is a goiter, or a swollen thyroid gland. Although it may look unsightly, even this visible evidence may be harmless. Generally, two conditions can affect the thyroid: hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. In the first case, the glad produces excess hormones, speeding up the chemical processes that transform substances in the body. In the latter case, hypothyroidism, the gland does not produce enough hormones to keep the chemical reactions taking place efficiently. Without enough driving these many processes of the body, undue strain can have harmful effects.
Hypothyroidism and Hearing Loss
How does hearing relate to hypothyroidism, you might ask? One way the two conditions can be linked is by an undersupply of oxygen and nutrients to the ears. When the thyroid under-produces hormones that regulate the speed of chemical transformation, the organs of the body may suffer from the deficiency. In the case of hearing, the tiny hairs of the inner ear rely on power from the bloodstream to continue their nuanced work of hearing. If they are deprived of oxygen or other essential substances, then these tiny hairs can be irreparably harmed. In this way, hypothyroidism can lead to hearing loss even though the two physiological systems seem like they could not be more distinct.
Although it is more common for hypothyroidism to have an effect on hearing, including through the related Hashimoto’s Disease, hyperthyroidism can be linked to hearing loss, as well. A condition called Grave’s Disease that leads to hyperthyroidism has also been linked to conditions such as hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance disorders located in the ears. Although more research is necessary to understand these relationships, particularly between hyperthyroidism and hearing loss, the scientific community continues to understand the connections with more detail.
If you have noticed some systemic changes in energy levels that seem random yet are linked throughout the body, you may have a thyroid condition to consider. For instance, if you are more fatigued than usual, have muscle weakness, and seem to gain weight while consuming the same amount of food as usual, it is quite possible that hypothyroidism is the culprit. Although these conditions are tricky to diagnose, there are solutions out there for thyroid conditions, and the effects can be remarkable.
Although it might seem unrelated at face value, you might even be doing something to preserve your hearing by seeking out help with a metabolic or thyroid condition. Only your doctor can diagnose your individual condition, so don’t delay to make an appointment if you feel like a thyroid condition may be responsible for some symptoms you experience. You just might find out that there is a single factor linking together many symptoms throughout the body, and the thyroid gland is just such a guiding force.
Posey Hearing Center
If you’ve experienced changes in your hearing, it is important to take a hearing test and seek treatment. At Posey Hearing Center, we provide comprehensive hearing health services, including hearing tests and hearing aid fittings. Contact us today to learn more.