Whether it’s a loss of hearing that snuck up on you or a ringing in your ears that just won’t go away, it’s important to find the root cause behind your hearing changes and see if it’s reversible.
It starts out so subtle – people seem to be talking softly or mumbling in your everyday conversations. But it isn’t long before you realize you are asking people to repeat themselves on a regular basis, when you know you used to be able to hear them just fine. What happened? Is it because of advancing age, or is there more to it?
According to the National Institutes of Health, 48 million Americans currently have hearing loss, while 25 percent of American adults have had at least temporary tinnitus. But, how many of these people are walking around with a hearing condition that could be reversed if the underlying cause was addressed? Let’s look at 5 common causes of hearing issues that, if caught early, may be reversible.
The Thyroid Connection
Your thyroid regulates your metabolism, which affects every cell in your body. It’s estimated that 20 million Americans have thyroid disease, but as much as 60 percent of those affected are unaware of their condition. All types of thyroid disease, including Grave’s Disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, hypothyroid, and hyperthyroid, all have been linked to both ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and hearing loss, though the reason behind it is unknown.
If you are experiencing fatigue, weight gain or loss, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, or muscle weakness or pain along with your hearing loss, it’s important to see your health care provider for a thorough thyroid exam with a complete thyroid hormone panel. A good thyroid supplement like our new Thyro-Key supports your overworked thyroid and may give you the boost you need to start feeling better.
Your Moods and Hearing Share the Same Thermostat
You may have heard of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that regulates your moods, appetite, and alertness, and even plays a role in your digestion. When you have optimal levels of this feel good hormone, your appetite is controlled, your moods are uplifted, and you have an overall sense of wellbeing. When it runs low, depression and changes to appetite are common.
Neuroscientists at the University of Texas at Austin were surprised to find another key role of this hormone – it controls how sensitive your auditory neurons are to noise. This means serotonin is like the thermostat for your hearing. When serotonin is low, sensorineural hear loss is common. When serotonin is on the rise, tinnitus and noise sensitivity also increase. People who take SSRI depression medications are all too familiar with tinnitus as a side effect of those medications, which reinforces what researchers have discovered.
To naturally increase your serotonin levels, start with moderate exercise, and make sure your diet isn’t too low in carbs. Simply put, healthy carbs are fuel for your neurotransmitters. When insulin levels rise from the carbohydrates in your diet, it allows tryptophan, the amino acid building block for serotonin, to enter the brain and be converted to serotonin. Nutritional supplements that raise serotonin include L-tryptophan, 5-HTP, SAMe, and St. Johns Wort. If you are taking medication for depression, consult your health care professional before taking any of these supplements, as they may interfere with your medication and cause dangerous side effects.
Your Gallstones Are Trying to Tell You Something
While many consider the gallbladder a throwaway organ, there is much more to it than its role in fat metabolism. Researchers in Taiwan studied over 75,000 people for more than 4 years and found more than 80 percent of patients with gallstones had sensorineural hearing loss. The shocking discovery was that this number dropped to only 16 percent with hearing loss once the diseased gallbladder was removed!
Though the connection between hearing and gallbladder health isn’t well understood, Ann Louise Gittleman has found that the health of your bile, which is stored in the gallbladder, is connected to thyroid health, and goes into detail about this connection in her newest book, Radical Metabolism. Since the health of the thyroid is connected to your hearing, it makes sense that the health of your bile is connected as well. Before you take such a drastic step as surgical removal an organ, start with cleansing and building better bile, and supplement with our Bile Builder.
The Surprisingly Crucial Role of Estrogen in Hearing
We often think of hormones like estrogen as having long-term effects, and changing on a monthly or yearly time frame. And while this is true, researchers at the University of Rochester have discovered that estrogen plays a key role in carrying hearing signals to the brain, and it changes the brain’s response to sound in a matter of milliseconds, not days or months. This means the estrogen levels in the brain are dynamic and respond instantaneously to changes in hormone balance.
Previous studies have shown that as estrogen levels drop after menopause that hearing loss is commonly a result, and it was proven in this most recent study; when they prevented brain cells from producing estrogen, the signals necessary for the brain to process sounds essentially shut down. While men don’t need as much estrogen as women, they do need it for proper hormone balance in their bodies as well.
Healthy estrogen levels are essential for both men and women to hear normally. If you are experiencing unexplained hearing loss, along with menopausal symptoms, fertility issues, trouble sleeping, brain fog, or thinning hair, consider checking your levels with our Saliva Hormone Test.
Clean the Mold Out
Because mold is so common, we tend to not think of it as a threat to our health, but it is. This isn’t an allergy; mold is a potent neurotoxin that can have debilitating effects on everything from your energy level to your thinking – and even your hearing. In a study done on children exposed to chronic mold, 90 percent of them had conductive hearing loss in both ears, which was confirmed with neurophysiological testing.
Mold exposure can also lead to fungal infections in the ears, which may cause both tinnitus and hearing loss. Once the infection is discovered and treated, the tinnitus and hearing loss usually resolve.
If you suspect mold in your home, school, or workplace, the most reliable testing and detection comes from a building biologist. The inexpensive kits you can buy at your local hardware or big box store aren’t recommended because they don’t differentiate between the normal outdoor molds from leaf litter and the more deadly forms that are found indoors that impact your health.