People with lower thyroid levels face an increased risk of developing tinnitus, a ringing sound in the ears. Treating hypothyroidism may help relieve tinnitus.

Nearly 5% of people Americans ages 12 or older have hypothyroidism, and approximately 10% to 25% of adults have a condition called tinnitus. What these numbers don’t reveal, though, is that there is a fair number of people who have both hypothyroidism and tinnitus.

It’s important to recognize when the ringing in your ears might be linked to hypothyroidism. In these cases, treating the underlying thyroid condition is often key to eliminating or at least reducing tinnitus.

We’ve gathered information to help you better understand hypothyroidism and tinnitus so you understand the symptoms. Be sure to talk with your doctor if you have any ongoing concerns about your health.

Having hypothyroidism means you have an underactive thyroid.

The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Other potential causes include thyroiditis and congenital hypothyroidism.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include:

  • tiredness
  • weight gain
  • trouble tolerating cold
  • joint and muscle pain
  • depression

In order to treat hypothyroidism, a doctor will prescribe medication to replace the hormones that your thyroid is not making. They may also suggest diet and lifestyle changes.

Read more about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism can affect many bodily functions. It has also been linked to hearing loss and a condition called tinnitus. This is when people experience a ringing in their ears that can’t be heard by others. Approximately 40% of adults with hypothyroidism have sensorineural hearing loss, or hearing loss caused by damage to the inner ear, in both ears.

While research from 2022 has established the link between hypothyroidism and ear-related concerns like tinnitus and hearing loss, the exact reason for this connection is not fully understood.

Doctors recognize that hypothyroidism presents an increased risk for tinnitus and hearing loss, but it’s unclear why some people experience these conditions and others don’t.

It’s also not fully understood why thyroid medications are sufficient to relieve tinnitus in some people with hypothyroidism, yet others continue to experience some degree of tinnitus or hearing loss even after medication.

People with severe tinnitus may have trouble hearing, sleeping, and working, which can affect their quality of life.

For this reason, it’s important to speak with a doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms of tinnitus. They can help address the underlying cause.

Interested in learning more about tinnitus? Read more about different potential treatments for this condition and its symptoms.

One 2022 study using data from the National Health Insurance Research Database of Taiwan indicated that individuals with hearing loss, vertigo, or insomnia and hypothyroidism were more likely to experience tinnitus.

It’s important to note that other research indicates that hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, can also lead to tinnitus.

Thyroid medications frequently have a positive effect on tinnitus. They may even completely relieve it by increasing thyroid function to within a normal range.

However, in some cases, individuals who were not previously experiencing tinnitus may experience it once they begin prescription medications, especially if they’re taking them at high doses.

It’s important to talk with your doctor if you experience side effects from any medications, including your thyroid medications. They can advise you on what other treatment options are available.

It’s also important to speak with your doctor before deciding to stop taking any prescribed medications. Your healthcare team can advise you on how best to transition off medications and start new ones if needed.

Hearing loss from hypothyroidism may improve or even completely reverse once the underlying thyroid issues are addressed.

A 2017 study found that 48% of people experienced hearing improvement after thyroid hormone replacement, and 15% of people in that study had their hearing loss completely reversed after 6 to 12 months of treatment.

If you have hypothyroidism, you might also experience tinnitus. This ringing noise in your ears can often be eliminated or at least diminished by treating the underlying thyroid issue with medication.

It’s important to let your doctor know if you’re experiencing tinnitus or any signs of hypothyroidism. They can help you determine a course of treatment to reduce symptoms and potentially prevent other hearing issues.