What's this ear? Your thyroid!!!???

What's this ear? Your thyroid!!!???

Before I knew I had any sort of thyroid issue, I started to have to swallow when going up or down hills. I don't mean mountains, but maybe a hundred to two hundred feet elevation.

Now that I have been on a decent dose of levothyroxine for some time, I hardy ever have to swallow to clear my ears, even on much greater hills. Only on the very odd occasion - which seems to happen to most people.

It is always good to see doctors/researchers catching up...

J Craniofac Surg. 2014 May 2. [Epub ahead of print]

Tympanometric Changes and Eustachian Tube Function in Patients With Hypothyroidism.

Orhan I1, Palit F, Aydin S, Soylu E, Sakallioglu O.

Author information

1From the Departments of *Ear Nose and Throat and †Internal Medicine, Istanbul Medipol University, Istanbul; and ‡Training and Research Hospital Department of ENT, Elazıg, Turkey.



The aim of this study was to investigate the tympanometric changes and eustachian tube function (ETF) in patients with hypothyroidism.


Automatic ETF tests were performed and tympanometric measurements were evaluated to assess ETF in 40 patients diagnosed with hypothyroidism and a 40-patient euthyroid control group. Levothyroxine sodium tablet treatment was started in patients with hypothyroidism. After achieving a euthyroid state in these patients, the tympanometric measurements and automatic ETF tests were repeated.


When the patient groups (hypothyroid and control) were compared in terms of ETF, a statistically significant ET dysfunction was observed in the hypothyroid patient group (P < 0.01).When hypothyroid patients were evaluated in terms of ETF before and after treatment, whereas 61.3% of cases had ET function before treatment, this ratio increased to 78.8% after treatment. Furthermore, according to pressure and compliance measurements, statistically significant increases were found in the after treatment measurements (P < 0.05).


As a result of this study, we have come to the opinion that hypothyroidism can change tympanometric measurements and also cause ET dysfunction. However, more comprehensive and detailed studies researching the effects of hypothyroidism on tympanometric measurements are needed.

PMID: 24799097 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]


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20 Replies

  • Thanks Rod

    An interesting link.

  • This is very interesting. My "popping" ears actually began about a year before I was finally diagnosed with HYPERthyroidism, due to Graves'.

    So maybe it's associated with thyroid disease in general, not just hypothyroidism.


  • In my view, it's like cooking!

    Too much or too little baking powder messes up the cake.

    An oven that is too hot will over-rise and then collapse, or one that is too cold will simply under-rise.

    Four ways to get a flat cake!

    Am absolutely sure that hyper and hypo have many overlapping and/or indistinguishable symptoms, especially close to the crossover point.


  • what a great way to describe these confusing crossover symptoms!

  • Exactly.

    When I told the endo about my ears, he looked completely blank & didn't bother to take note of it. Why does that not surprise me?


  • Thanks, Rod, for posting this. My first symptoms several years ago was ear pain and popping. I would go to drs asking if I had an ear infection, which of course, I never had.

  • Interesting read Rod. My deafness/tinnitus has got worse in the last couple of months and is really getting me down. I was on a batch of Liothyronine that appears to be a bit dodgy as others were having problems too. Was wondering if it might have been a build up of not being medicated properly. When I mentioned it to my doctor if it could be thyroid related she dismissed my theory. Would you have an opinion please?

  • I am on levothyroxine only and once I forgot to take it with me when I went away for a weekend. After 2 days I started getting Tinnitus (which I hadn't had since I was untreated). It went away again as soon as I started taking the pills again. So yes, even slightly low T4 levels can cause tinnitus, particularly if you are slightly undermedicated anyway (which seems to be how the doctors prefer it!).

  • That's interesting eeng. Mine first started ten years ago when I had to come off Levo to have the radio active iodine treatment for cancer. However it has become worse. I just take Liothyronine (T3). I am wondering if I should add some T4 to the mix. It's a puzzle isn't it, which way do you go, so many options and possibilities. Thank you for your reply, it has given me more food for thought this morning.

  • Can't be much help on deafness and tinnitus, I am afraid.

    I have had tinnitus of some form since I was about 8 (a long time ago!). I have a "notch" out of my hearing - apparently noise induced hearing loss. Over the years, both have become worse. Not at all sure how they relate to thyroid - if at all, for me. Some days I am screaming at my ears - others, they are quite bearable. Certainly the ear popping was strongly related.


  • Tinnitus/deafness really gets you down. Thanks for your reply Rod.

  • Wow. This is very interesting. Before I was diagnosed I had regular ear infections and hardly ever get them now. I am also having some real problems with other ear problems that are intermittent, but which I am putting down to sinus trouble, as there has not been any other explanation till this.

  • Good to read this. I felt like my head was under water for over 5 years. I had monthly appointments with an ENT who monitored me losing my hearing in my left ear, but didn't think of any intervention. He put grommets in both ears in 2005, all they did was give me loud tinnitus in my left ear (white noise) to add to the engine running sound in my right. I can't help but think if he knew the links between thyroid and low B12 I may not have ended up with a hearing aid. I still get the blocked sticky wet sensation in my ears, but not like it's under the bathwater!

    My eldest daughter has the exact same problem, she too was given grommets, but her hypo and PA was caught early by her mum thank goodness, or she would be deaf too no doubt. This time her ENT knew of the connection with PA and tinnitus, but not hypo. It's so good to see this in print Rod, because quite honestly I think all the crap to do with being hypo all these years,and doctors not knowing the symptoms has no doubt affected my mental health, and cost the NHS a good deal of money! I have withdrawn from my weekly hearing therapist appointments. No mention of B12 link to tinnitus, ever, or why i have my head full to bursting with loud noises I can't switch off.

  • Although I found B12 had some other positive effects, I really cannot relate any change in hearing (tinnitus or deafness) to whether or not I take B12.

    For others, the relation with B12 might be very obvious!


  • Hi Rod, my daughter's tinnitus did improve in volume once she started loading doses. I haven't noticed anything at all with mine on thyroid meds or b12 injections. In fact mine is louder than ever!

  • Me too! My right ear (the same side as the nodule) was very bunged up feeling, very sticky and gooey. Doctor said it did look swollen but not infected, but of course dismissed it as a hyoo symptom! Lots of buzzing and changes in sounds too. Good grief, does it never end?? :-(

  • The Wiki article linked in the post says The Eustachian tube also drains mucus from the middle ear.

    So, maybe, not surprising that the drainage doesn't work when there is Eustachian tube dysfunction... :-)


  • Really interesting to read this article! I was diagnosed with 'eustachian tube dysfunction' a few years ago after I went to get it checked out as it felt like my ears had 'popped' or had water in them, and i could hear myself talking / breathing really loud. I had a camera put up through my nose and into my throat, and they did several tests to check my hearing and they all came back fine, therefore they came to the conclusion that it was eustachian tube dysfunction.

    I was born without a thyroid so getting my levels right has been a constant battle! I have a long list of symptoms but never knew this could be related to my thyroid levels.

    It was really getting me down and I had it for around 2 years, I found that the only way to unblock them was to sniff really hard or drink a lot of water until it unblocked. It then stopped for about a year and has recently returned again, hence why I just came across this post. I only had my thyroid levels checked around 2 months ago and they came back 'normal' (although i'm never sure whether to believe them!). It would be great to find out how to get rid of it or improve its symptoms!

  • Truly amazing how many things can be thyroid-related!

    I suggest, if you have not already done so, that you get actual numbers from your tests and, maybe, post them for opinions.

  • Yes definitely, I have just moved doctors due to moving house and they are quite useless! I may nip in and get them to give me my actual levels though as it's not always the case that it is 'normal'.

    It seems to be ever since I turned 18 my levels have been up and down since! I'm now 25 and more interested than ever in finding ways to improve all of my symptoms, the more I read the more I realise how it is linked to almost everything!

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