10 Diagnoses Commonly Caused By Hypothyroidism

10 Diagnoses Commonly Caused by Hypothyroidism

Every single cell of the body requires thyroid hormone for proper functioning. Every single part of the body, therefore, is at risk when someone suffers from thyroid dysfunction. Hypothyroidism sufferers present to their doctors with many obvious symptoms. Often times, unfortunately, their symptoms are misdiagnosed as other health conditions.

Written by Steven F. Hotze, M.D.

Have you seen doctor after doctor trying to find out the cause of your symptoms? Did your doctor give you a prescription drug for each symptom and send you on your way? If so, please know that you are not alone. Thousands of patients are on this frustrating journey with you, and there is a solution. More often than not, the symptoms of hypothyroidism are misdiagnosed.

10 Diagnoses Commonly Caused by Hypothyroidism

1. Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is simply a Latin word meaning muscle pain, yet it has come to be used by traditional medicine to describe a collection of symptoms as if it is a disease. It is actually a symptom itself. Take a look – do any of these fibromyalgia symptoms sound familiar to you? They are also symptoms of hypothyroidism.

  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Muscle pain and weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Tingling or numbness in extremities
  • Mental fog/”fibro fog”
  • Memory loss
  • Constipation/irritable bowel
  • Shortness of breath
  • Bloating
  • Increased allergy symptoms
  • Painful menstrual periods
  • Heightened chemical sensitivity
  • Blurred vision
  • Chest pain
  • Depression
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Panic attacks
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Anxiety
  • Skin disorders (e.g., dry skin)
  • Cold extremities

It is no surprise that fibromyalgia is so commonly diagnosed by traditional doctors today, because fibromyalgia is most often hypothyroidism that is being misdiagnosed.

2. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Have you been seeing doctor after doctor trying to find out why you have such extreme fatigue? Have you been told you that your blood tests came back normal? Did your doctor then give you a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome and tell you that you will have to live with it for the rest of your life? If so, then you are no doubt one of the millions of frustrated patients who were left feeling hopeless. Well take heart, because it is very likely that your real diagnosis was overlooked.

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism. With hypothyroidism, your metabolism slows down and you don’t have the energy you need to function well, and the result is fatigue.

3. Depression

Patients with thyroid disorders are more prone to develop depressive symptoms. Today, it is well recognized that disturbances in thyroid function may significantly affect mental status including emotion and cognition. Both excess and insufficient thyroid hormones can cause mood abnormalities, including depression, that is generally reversible with adequate thyroid treatment. Furthermore, thyroid hormones are reported by many to be an effective treatment for depression. Primary thyroid disorders including both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism may be accompanied by various neuropsychiatric manifestations ranging from mild depression and anxiety to overt psychosis.[1,2]

According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, “The diagnosis of subclinical or clinical hypothyroidism must be considered in every patient with depression.” Among the various neuropsychiatric manifestations of thyroid disorders, depression remains the most common.[1]

4. Constipation

It’s one of those topics we often don’t want to discuss, but persistent or chronic constipation can be a sign of an underactive thyroid. Because the thyroid regulates metabolism, the metabolic slowdown of hypothyroidism also slows down the digestive system, and food moves more slowly through digestion and elimination, frequently resulting in chronic constipation. Research shows that hypothyroidism prominently reduces esophageal and gastric motor activity and can cause gastrointestinal dysfunction [3] and that hypothyroidism contributes to chronic constipation.[4,5]

Often, common remedies, such as increasing water intake, fruits like dried prunes or prune juice, upping the fiber intake, are tried with no results. Over-the-counter, herbal and prescription drugs may also fail to resolve the problem. If you are experiencing chronic constipation, you should always be exhaustively evaluated for an underactive thyroid.

5. Migraine Headaches

Hypothyroidism causes your metabolism to slow down, which slows your circulation and causes your body to retain water and mucin. The blood vessels and tissues in the brain swell and cause a migraine. Fatigue, which accompanies hypothyroidism, is often associated with migraines and can play an important role in initiating migraine attacks. Research suggests that patients with hypothyroidism have a higher risk of lifetime migraine than controls.[6]

6. Anxiety

Hypothyroidism results in a slowdown of cellular metabolism, which causes a drop in levels of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutric acid (GABA). GABA has a calming effect, which prevents the brain from being overwhelmed by stimulation. Moderately low levels of GABA are linked to anxiety, panic attacks, and mood swings. At the other end of the spectrum, too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) can also bring on anxiety and panic attacks.

7. Infertility

Many women and doctors do not realize that optimal thyroid function is necessary for fertility. Despite the fact that millions of women have undiagnosed hypothyroidism, which can prevent their ability to get pregnant, women with infertility are not told that their first step should be a thorough thyroid evaluation. Having optimal levels of thyroid hormone is critical for conception and a healthy pregnancy. It is essential to the ability to become pregnant, and must be maintained in order to sustain a healthy pregnancy, even in the earliest days after conception.

Undiagnosed and untreated thyroid disease can be a cause for infertility. Hypothyroidism can affect fertility due to anovulatory cycles, luteal phase defects, hyperprolactinemia, and sex hormone imbalance. Hypothyroidism treatment for 3 months to 1 year can be of great benefit to conceive in asymptomatic infertile women.[7] Thyroid evaluation should be done in any woman who wants to get pregnant with family history of thyroid problems, irregular menstrual cycles, had more than two miscarriages or is unable to conceive after 1 year of unprotected intercourse.[7]

Prevalence of autoimmune thyroiditis, or Hashimoto’s, is significantly higher among infertile women than among fertile women, especially among those whose infertility is caused by endometriosis or ovarian dysfunction. Presence of thyroid autoimmunity does not interfere with normal embryo implantation, but the risk of early miscarriage is substantially raised. Subclinical and overt forms of hypothyroidism are associated with increased risk of pregnancy-related morbidity, for which thyroxine therapy can be beneficial. Systematic screening for thyroid disorders in pregnant women might be advantageous in women at high risk, particularly infertile women.[8]

8. Insomnia

The thyroid is our master gland of metabolism and energy, and so this tiny, butterfly-shaped bland packs a punch when it comes to our sleep patterns. Hypothyroidism is a common cause of poor sleep and insomnia. Thyroid hormones improve the quality of sleep, allowing you to spend more time in deep phases of sleep. On the other end, too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) can also cause insomnia.

Sleep researchers have found that people who are hypothyroid without proper treatment are also more likely to suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition where breathing stops while sleeping — either due to airway obstruction, a failure of brain signals, or both. Every time breathing stops, the brain triggers a brief period of waking so as to restart breathing. Sleep is severely interrupted and fragmented, and normal sleep cycles are disrupted. Some people with sleep apnea may snore loudly, but some are otherwise quiet sleepers.

9. Memory Loss

Because the brain uses so much energy, individuals with hypothyroidism (slowed metabolism and less energy) tend to experience a decline in their mental sharpness – the brain fog that so many patients describe. It becomes difficult to maintain focus, sharp memory and clarity. Low thyroid function is a common cause of brain fog, depression , difficulty concentrating and short term memory loss. Hypothyroidism is often associated with mood disturbances and cognitive impairment, implying that thyroid hormones are critical for normal brain functioning. In particular, hypothyroidism has been associated with several cognitive deficits, including general intelligence, psychomotor speed, visual-spatial skills and memory.[9]

Hypothyroidism is one of the most frequent causes of symptomatic dementia. The effectiveness of hormone therapy for improving mental status is well established.[10] Research shows that patients with hypothyroidism rated themselves worse relative to functional memory, concentration, thinking, alertness, and motivation. Hypothyroidism was associated with a decrease in retrieval from memory. Research also reports an association between TSH elevation and dementia. These findings are consistent with evidence that hypothyroidism is associated with cognitive impairment, and that thyroidal state may influence cerebral metabolism.[11]

10. Elevated Cholesterol

Adequate levels of thyroid hormone, especially the active form of the thyroid hormone, T3, are essential for the metabolism of cholesterol. In order for your body to remove excess cholesterol, the liver must be functioning optimally. Your liver converts the extra cholesterol into bile, which then leaves the body through elimination. Thyroid hormone plays an integral role in liver function. Increased levels of thyroid hormone increase the number of LDL cholesterol receptors on the liver cells. This allows these cells to remove excess LDL cholesterol from the plasma. If adequate amounts of thyroid hormone are not supplied, the liver’s ability to remove cholesterol out of the plasma is compromised.

Research shows that hypothyroidism is one of the most common causes of high cholesterol. Biochemical screening for thyroid dysfunction is critical in all patients with high cholesterol, as well as in all patients with unexpected improvement or worsening of their lipid profile.

Why Hypothyroidism is Commonly Misdiagnosed

We hear from people all the time who share with us their thyroid symptoms, but are then quick to say that their doctor already checked their thyroid and it is fine. This is frustrating because their doctor has dismissed their symptoms of hypothyroidism in lieu of one blood test result, the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) test. The doctor totally ignores the patient’s symptoms which are clearly indicative of low thyroid function. This is due to the mindset cultivated by mainstream medicine that the TSH blood test is the “gold standard” used to diagnose hypothyroidism, while this blood test actually fails the majority of patients.

The “normal laboratory range” of thyroid hormone is an arbitrary value, defined statistically as plus or minus two standard deviations from the mean. This so-called “normal range” is as wide as the Grand Canyon and as tall as the Empire State Building. In practice, it means that approximately 90-95 percent of the population will always fall within the normal range. However, it’s assured that 90-95 percent of the population does not feel healthy, well, or full of energy.

There is another reason why lab tests should not be the sole factor in determining whether an individual has hypothyroidism: thyroid hormone levels decline with age, with predictable effects on energy and well-being. It is the relative decline in your thyroid hormone level that matters, not your level compared to some arbitrarily defined standard.

While your thyroid gland may be producing enough thyroid hormones so that the TSH blood test falls within the normal range, your body may not be able to assimilate it into the cells where it can actually do its job, which is why you would still have symptoms of hypothyroidism. What many people have is a conversion problem or Hypothyroidism Type 2. This results in less than optimal thyroid function for you. There isn’t a blood test that will tell you if you have a problem assimilating thyroid into your cells. We must rely on your symptoms to give us this piece of information.

These symptoms are not “all in your head”. Always ask your doctor “WHY am I having these symptoms?” I strongly suggest all thyroid patients become experts in their thyroid health by referring to my book Hypothyroidism, Health & Happiness: The Riddle of Illness Revealed.

About Steven F. Hotze, M.D.

Dr. Hotze is the founder and CEO of the Hotze Health & Wellness Center in Houston, Texas. In his book Hypothyroidism, Health & Happiness: The Riddle of Illness Revealed, Dr. Hotze reveals how commonly hypothyroidism is overlooked, misdiagnosed, and mistreated in women and men.

References:

1. Hage, M.P., et al. The Link between Thyroid Function and Depression. J Thyroid Res. 2012;2012:590648.

2. Haggerty Jr, J.J., et al. Subclinical hypothyroidism: a modifiable risk factor for depression? Am J Psychiatry. 1993 Mar;150(3):508-10.

3. Yaylali, O., et al. Does hypothyroidism affect gastrointestinal motility? Gastroenterology Research and Practice. 2009;2009, Article ID 529802, 7 pages.

4. Leung, L. et al. Chronic constipation: An evidence-based review. J Am Board Fam Med July-August 2011;24(4):436-451.

5. Basilisco, G., et al. Chronic constipation: A critical review. Digestive and Liver Disease. 2013;45(2013):886-893.

6. Rainero, I., et al. PO55. Prevalence of migraine in subclinical hypothyroidism: a case-control study. J Headache Pain. 2015;16(Supplements 1):A81.

7. Verma, I., et al. Prevalence of hypothyroidism in infertile women and evaluation of response of treatment for hypothyroidism on infertility. Int J Appl Basic Med Res. 2012 Jan-Jun;2(1):17-19.

8. Poppe, K., et al. The role of thyroid autoimmunity in fertility and pregnancy. Nat Clin Tract Endocrine Metab. 2008 Jul;4(7):394-405.

9. Miller, K.J., et al. Verbal Memory Retrieval Deficits Associated with Untreated Hypothyroidism. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. Spring 2007;19(2):132-136.

10. Monzon Monguilod MJ and Perez Lopez-Fraile I. Subclinical hypothyroidism as a cause of reversible cognitive deterioration. Neurologia. 1996 Nov;11(9):353-6.

11. Ganguli, M. et al. Association between dementia and elevated TSH: a community-based study. Biol Psychiatry. 1996 Oct 15;40(8):714-25.

Take Back Your Thyroid Health! Sign up and never miss a post - it's FREE


About Dana Trentini

Who knew that little butterfly-shaped thyroid gland at the base of my neck could affect my life so completely? I founded Hypothyroid Mom in memory of the unborn baby I lost to hypothyroidism. Winner of two 2014 WEGO Health Activist Awards: Health Activist Hero & Best In Show Twitter. Hypothyroid Mom is for information purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for consulting your physician regarding medical advice pertaining to your health. Hypothyroid Mom includes Affiliate links including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Connect with me on Google+