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Thyroid Health and Your Hearing: The Latest Research



The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck. Its main purpose is to release hormones that control your metabolism. However, there are several conditions that affect thyroid health, causing it to produce either too much or not enough of these hormones.

About 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, and one of the symptoms associated with these conditions is hearing loss. Additionally, the medication used to treat the various forms of thyroid disease can also lead to hearing loss. As many people with thyroid disease develop hearing loss one way or another, new research is always being performed to learn more about this link.

Below we share some of the latest research into the connection between thyroid disease and hearing loss.

Medication for Graves’ disease linked to hearing loss

Graves’ disease is a condition in which the thyroid overproduces hormones. A common medication used to treat it, propylthiouracil, was recently shown to cause the blood vessels in the ears to swell and eventually cause hearing loss. Those with Graves’ disease should discuss the potential risks of their treatment options with their doctor.

Hearing loss caused by low iodine intake

Iodine is essential for a healthy thyroid. A lack of this mineral can lead to conditions like hypothyroidism, in which the gland underproduces hormones. A new study found that low iodine intake and its effect on the thyroid is linked to hearing loss in teenagers. While further studies are ongoing, the report highlights the importance of thyroid health and proper nutrition to your hearing and overall health.

Thyroid imbalance may cause hearing loss in newborns

New research suggests that an insufficient supply of thyroid hormone as a fetus develops in the womb can lead to total hearing loss at birth. This can result when both parents are carriers of a mutated gene that stops thyroid hormones—which are essential to proper ear development—from reaching the fetus’s inner ear. In the future, researchers believe that if both parents are found to have the gene mutation, the mother could be given a synthetic thyroid hormone to help the baby develop with healthy hearing.

Thyroid disease is one of the most common illnesses associated with hearing loss, and ongoing research continues to show new links between the two conditions. If you have thyroid disease and are concerned about your hearing, you can schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional to evaluate your hearing and prescribe the best hearing aids for you.