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Thread: Lots to Know about Thyroid Disease!

  1. Lots to Know about Thyroid Disease!

    Six weeks ago I woke up tired and depressed, like I have so often in the last year. All I wanted to do is go back to bed.

    The negative intrusive thoughts began before my feet touched the floor.

    You are so lazy, I thought to myself. You could never hold a REAL job. You can barely string together three sentences.

    All I had to do that day was to crank out one quality blog before getting the kids from school, but every few paragraphs I needed to lie down.

    Since I hadn’t been sleeping well for months and was used to feeling fatigued, I assumed my exhaustion and concentration problems were merely symptoms of my chronic depression.

    But there was actually something more going on than depression.

    “Your thyroid is not making enough thyroid hormone,” a new doctor told me over the phone that day. “That’s the first thing we have to work on, because low thyroid levels can affect a lot of things and make you feel very tired and depressed.”

    As a physician who practices “functional medicine,” a science that engages the entire body to address the underlying causes of disease, she took a dozen vials of blood from me the week before as part of a comprehensive consultation.

    The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck that produces hormones that control how your body uses energy and a lot of other things, like body temperature and weight. When your thyroid is underactive (hypothyroidism), your symptoms might include:
    •Fatigue
    •Weight gain
    •Constipation
    •Fuzzy thinking
    •Low blood pressure
    •Bloating
    •Depression
    •Slow reflexes

    When your thyroid is overactive (hyperthyroidism), symptoms include:
    •Anxiety
    •Insomnia
    •Weight loss
    •Diarrhea
    •High heart rate
    •High blood pressure

    The interesting thing is that I’ve had my thyroid levels checked for eight years now, ever since an endocrinologist spotted a tumor in my pituitary gland. However, not until a comprehensive lab test was done did a doctor suggest treatment for low levels of both T3 and T4 hormones.

    According to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12 percent of the American population will develop a thyroid condition. Today an estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease; however, 60 percent are unaware of their condition.

    Many of those people will visit their primary care physician or a psychiatrist and report symptoms of depression, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, and fuzzy thinking. They might receive a diagnosis of major depression, general anxiety, or bipolar disorder, and leave the doctor’s office with prescriptions for antidepressants, mood stabilizers, sedatives, or all three.

    The drugs might abate some of the symptoms, but the underlying illness will remain untreated.

    Dana Trentini, mother of two, was diagnosed with hypothyroidism the year following the birth of her first son in 2006. She was overwhelmed with fatigue. Her pregnancy weight was impossible to lose.

    Her hair began to fall out. And kidney stones landed her in the emergency room. She was treated by a leading endocrinologist and became pregnant again; however, her thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) reached levels far above the recommended reference range for pregnancy and she miscarried.

    In October 2012, she launched the blog “Hypothyroid Mom” to help educate others about thyroid disease.

    “The mission of Hypothyroid Mom is clear — to drive awareness,” she writes on her blog. “The Thyroid Federation International estimates there are up to 300 million people, mostly women, with thyroid dysfunction worldwide, yet over half are unaware of their condition.”

    Everyday Health featured Hypothyroid Mom in January 2014 for Thyroid Awareness Month: “How Mom’s Thyroid Problems Can Hurt Baby.” It is Dana’s life mission to bring about universal thyroid screening in pregnancy.

    “I will save babies in memory of my lost child,” she writes.

    A friend led me to her fascinating post, “Mental Disorder or Undiagnosed Hypothyroidism?” In this post, she features a letter from one of her readers who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and pumped full of meds, ready to undergo electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

    The woman, Jana, writes: “Finally after four years of bipolar medications to the max, a close family member was diagnosed with hypothyroidism so my doctor tested me, too. I have a family history of thyroid disease. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism.”

    And then she says something that makes me think all persons taking antidepressants and mood stabilizers should have their thyroid checked: “Every single time I attend a bipolar support group, I ask everyone if they are hypothyroid and every time half the people raise their hand and the other half have no clue what it is and they don’t know if they have been tested.”

    Dana then highlights a few studies linking bipolar disorder, depression, and thyroid disease. As she mentions, the use of lithium to treat bipolar disorder complicates matters, because the medication can itself cause thyroid problems.

    However, plenty of research points to the connection between bipolar disorder and thyroid disease even in those who aren’t medicated with lithium, as well as the connection between different kinds of mood disorders and hypothyroidism. Dana mentions these:
    •A 2002 study entitled “High Rate of Autoimmune Thyroiditis in Bipolar Disorder: Lack of Association with Lithium Exposure” found that Hashimoto’s thyroid antibodies were highly prevalent in a sample of outpatients with bipolar disorder as compared to a control group.
    •An interesting study of bipolar twins versus healthy control twins showed that autoimmune thyroiditis is related not only to bipolar disorder itself but also to the genetic vulnerability to develop the disorder.
    •A 2004 study found a link between thyroid autoimmunity, specifically the presence of thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO Ab+), with anxiety and mood disorders in the community.
    •A 2005 study found that subjects with Hashimoto’s disease displayed high frequencies of lifetime depressive episodes, generalized anxiety disorders, social phobia and primary sleep disorders.

    For some people, thyroid treatment is straightforward and brings fast relief of symptoms. Mine has been more complicated because I take lithium for my bipolar disorder and I have a pituitary tumor. I’m extremely sensitive to medications that stimulate thyroid production: What should be a therapeutic dose for me causes insomnia. I am hopeful, however, that I will eventually find a solution.

    If you suffer from depression, anxiety, or both, please get your thyroid checked.

    An underactive thyroid can make you feel depressed, fatigued and fuzzy brained. An overactive thyroid can cause anxiety and insomnia. If you fluctuate between the two, you will have similar symptoms to those of bipolar disorder.

    Thyroid disease may very well be at the root of your problem.

    Although this article does give one almost too much information about thyroid disease, felt it was worthwhile for all to read. [I have hypothyroid, which is controlled with meds.] Thanks, Joan

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    Re: Lots to Know about Thyroid Disease!

    Hi Joan... Great post. You likely know I was diagnosed with an over active Thyroid. My symptoms were diarrhea which led me to seek my Doctors advice. I had lost some 60 pounds in weight over a 6 week period which I confess on one hand being very pleased about but at the same time was concerned as to why this was happening. I was also very weak due to this fast weight loss.

    She did blood work and thus diagnosed my over active thyroid. The cure in my case was to be given radioactive iodine. They told me that within 6 weeks I should notice a major difference and at 12 weeks they'd know if it had worked. I'm currently 10 weeks into this cycle. I no longer have diarrhea and my weight has stabilized. I have actually put on 2 pounds.

    They tell me when giving you the doze that they look to if anything give you a touch less so that if needed they can give you a bit more to fine tune the result. The Thyroid is the only organ in your body which reacts to radioactive iodine. In the event this treatment doesn't work perfectly then they can provide you with a pill that will complete the cure which you take once a day for the rest of your life.

    I will say that as a result of this treatment and/or losing weight it has had a marked change in my diabetic insulin intake. Prior to this it was stable and I took around 3 injections per day before each meal of short acting insulin. I then also took 1 injection of long acting insulin which works over night and stays with you throughput the day.

    On my last visit to the Doctor she said my blood work indicated that I might be able to stop taking the short acting insulin as my hemoglobin count was really too low at 4.5. I was taking an average of 16 units of short acting insulin per meal although it varied with what I had for my meal. My average overnight does of the long acting insulin was 52 units.

    Since the treatment and advice from the Doctor I have been experimenting and right now when I test my blood sugar in the morning I'm mostly under 7 units which is where I should be. They say between 4 & 7 is fine. So right now I have mostly stopped taking short acting insulin. However the overnight insulin is harder to figure out. The highest units I've taken is 30 which means I've almost halved my regular dose.

    However, I'm now having to track what I an eating to try and get a handle on my overall position. For example this week I've been at...

    Morning on Sunday at 6.4 Bedtime at 7.4 took 16 units
    Morning on Monday at 6.4 Bedtime at 11.4 took 30 units
    Morning on Tuesday at 5.9 Bedtime at 11.8 took 30 units
    Morning on Wednesday at 5,8 Bedtime at 6.6 took 10 units (had sandwich overnight - Had 2 BLT sandwiches)
    Morning on Thursday at 8.0 Bedtime at 10.9 took 30 units (had sandwich overnight - Had 1 Potato scone sandwich with slice of boiled ham)
    Morning on Friday at 6.4

    I should say I normally have just two meals a day but sometimes I find it hard to get to sleep and that's when I might get something to eat and drink in the early hours of the morning.

    I have been struggling to understand what is going on as the previous week I was all over the place. Like 2 weeks ago...

    Morning on Sunday at 7.3 Bedtime at 11.3 took 50 units
    Morning on Monday at 9.0 took 6 units short acting Bedtime at 6.5 took 15 units
    Morning on Tuesday at 6.9 Bedtime at 11.5 took 50 units (had sandwich overnight - Had 1 cheese, onion and tomato sandwich)
    Morning on Wednesday at 7.2 Bedtime at 12.9 took 50 units
    Morning on Thursday at 2.7 ate something and then tested at 10. 3 and so took 6 units short acting Bedtime at 4.8 took 0 units
    Morning on Friday at 6.8 Bedtime 9.5 took 30 units
    Morning on Saturday at 8.2 took 9 units short acting Bedtime 7.2 took 20 units and on the next morning at 7.2

    So now only if I am above 8.0 in the morning do I take short acting insulin and and usually that is just 6 to 8 units. This current week I've so far taken none at all.

    The problem now is what to eat if I have a low as clearly I need to eat more to bring my blood sugar back up but what? Usually a small can of coca cola would generally do the trick but now it doesn't. I have an appointment in 2 weeks time with the diabetic specialist so will be raising this with her. I ended up having a full can of coca cola along with a couple of sandwiches of cheese and tomato and also had a couple of cold boiled potatoes with butter. In the morning I then tested out at 10.3 so also took 6 units of short acting insulin at that time which got me to 4.8 at bedtime. So clearly I over reacted that night.

    On the whole this current week is the best yet and seems to be stabilising with no short acting taken at all. However I'm a bit too high at the Bedtime testing with 3 out of 5 results really too high although the over night insulin is correcting by morning. Not sure what this will do to my 3 month average.

    Hope this is not too detailed for you but figured it might help others.

    Alastair

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  5. Re: Lots to Know about Thyroid Disease!

    HI, Alastair....The main reason I put that article in was, first of all, for all to have some info re: thyroid probs. Secondly, I knew you'd had your difficulties with hyperthyroid. I've only had to change my thyroid meds once, since I was diagnosed. My hair was falling out, & I was very sluggish. I told the doc, & got a blood test, & I needed to have the thyroid meds increased by 25 micrograms. Since then, I "think" my hair is getting better, & I don't feel so fatigued. Great to hear you're kind of doing better. I know that one thinks something should work faster, but that isn't so, with these kind of problems. Thanks for telling me, & all of us more about your thyroid difficulties. Good luck!!! Joan

  6. Re: Lots to Know about Thyroid Disease!

    Hi, Alastair...Just wrote out a short reply to your looonger one above. Then I forgot to "post" it. Oh, well, one must make allowances as one grows slightly older. I haven't known anyone who had the hyperthyroid as you do. I had one comment, perhaps you should eat a total of three meals a day. I try to eat a more substantial meal for breakfast, a light lunch, & a light supper. I do have occasions of low blood sugar, when I will eat some cereal dry. When at my grand-daughter's high school graduation, I had an episode of low BS, & very nearly fainted...sitting in a packed gymnasium, on bleachers. My grandson was sitting next to me, & he's the only one who really noticed. He eventually ran & got me some cookies to eat. Anyway, I am grateful that my hypothyroid, & perhaps your hyperthyroid are both under control!!! Thanks for your kind reply. Joan

    Evidently, something is slightly different re: this newer OS. I did not see my other post show up, & thought it had gone off into the ether! I even tried to "edit" it, but couldn't. So here I am, looking "foolish". J

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    Re: Lots to Know about Thyroid Disease!

    Hey I have problems posting myself at time .My problem with eating iis that I'm really not that hungry so don't feel like eating. However while I do eat, my breakfast half the time is more a brunch or sometimes just cereal with some fruit. My main meal is usually around 5pm where I'll have more traditional meant, veg and postatoes. Like iit's currently 1.28 pm at the moment and I am just looking to have some "breakfast". This means I probably won't have my main meal until around 7 pm. That also means if I do have a sandwich later that will likely be around 2 am. It's rare that I get up before 10.30 am during the day and this has gone on for many years with me. So as you can see my personal time is well skewed. Thanks for the tips on eating and will certainly consider this.Alastair

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