Thyroid Hormone Overdose

Thyroid hormone overdose is a common problem. This is because dosages of thyroid hormone used for treatment of hypothyroidism may be selected empirically and not sufficiently monitored using appropriate laboratory tests. This results in some people remaining hypothyroid with inadequate thyroid hormone dosages and some becoming thyrotoxic with too much thyroid hormone. Poor compliance is the second most common reason for overdose. An occasional scenario is in thyroid patients who have memory...

Side Effects and Risks of RAI for Graves Disease

It's pretty accurate to say that the only long-term side effect of RAI for Graves' disease is hypothyroidism. As we also explain in Chapter 19, this is actually the intention of the treatment because once you're hypothyroid, you can be treated with the proper dose of thyroid hormone, which makes you feel balanced and well again. This is preferable to the roller coaster of thyrotoxicosis from Graves' disease (see Chapter 6), which wreaks havoc on your body (and life). So, to most Graves'...

Tests That Measure Thyroid Hormone Levels

As we discussed in Chapter 1, the major thyroid hormone made by the thyroid gland is thyroxine (T4), which is known as levothyroxine (L-T4) when given as a medication. T4, called this because each T4 molecule has four iodine atoms, is converted within each cell of the body to triiodothyronine (T3, containing only three iodine atoms for each molecule). T3 is the active thyroid hormone that activates genes and does the job of thyroid hormone. When additional iodines are removed (for example,...

If You Had Radioactive Iodine Therapy

If you were treated for hyperthyroidism or thyroid cancer with radioactive iodine, a reasonable recommendation is that you shouldn't plan to get pregnant for about six months. If you're pregnant after you had RAI, but did not wait this six-month period, you shouldn't be worried since there isn't any definite evidence that there's any harm to your child. Pregnancies should proceed normally so long as you're taking sufficient doses of your thyroid hormone replacement and the TSH is monitored...

Tests of Metabolism

The classic test of the body's metabolism, its speed of life, is called the basal metabolic rate, the BMR. Before there were blood tests to measure TSH levels or thyroid hormone levels, the only way physicians could objectively assess thyroid status was to check the BMR. This test involves the patient resting comfortably in bed, preferably early in the morning, and then having a plastic hood placed over his or her head. A machine would then sample air from the hood and measure the rate that...

Endemic Goiter

Endemic goiter arises from iodine deficiency. If this deficiency is mild, the enlarged gland stimulated by TSH is able to sufficiently compensate for the low iodine with only borderline hypothyroidism. On the other hand, hypothyroidism during fetal development to early childhood can cause a condition known as cretinism. Individuals with cretinism have mental deficiencies, including defects in hearing, speech, gait, and or intelligence. This is the most common cause of mental retardation...

Radioactive Iodine RAI Therapy for Graves Disease

Radioactive iodine (RAI) is the most common treatment for Graves' disease in the United States and increasing in popularity in most other parts of the world. In many ways, it is almost an ideal therapy. It has a remarkably long and safe track record with more than a half century of experience. Radioactive iodine is simply an isotope of iodine that releases radiation. The specific isotope used for treatment is iodine-131 (I-131). Since the thyroid naturally and avidly takes in iodine to form...

Milky Discharge from Breasts

Hypothyroidism may cause women to overproduce prolactin, one of the hormones responsible for milk production. Too much prolactin can also block estrogen production, which will interfere with regular periods and ovulation. As a general rule, when you notice discharge coming out of your breast by itself and you are not lactating or deliberately expressing your breasts, please have it checked by a breast specialist or gynecologist (who should also perform a thorough breast exam to rule out other...

Postpartum Thyroiditis

Postpartum thyroiditis means inflammation of the thyroid gland after delivery and is often the culprit behind the so-called postpartum blues. Postpartum thyroiditis occurs in 5 to 18 percent of all postpartum women and usually lasts six to nine months before it resolves on its own. Postpartum thyroiditis is a general label referring to silent thyroiditis (see Chapter 5) occurring after delivery and causing mild thyrotoxicosis and or a short-lived Hashimoto's-type of thyroiditis (see Chapter 5),...

Resistance to Thyroid Hormone RTH or Thyroid Hormone Resistance

The story of resistance to thyroid hormone (RTH) started forty years ago with my (Ken) mentor, Dr. Samuel Refetoff. As an astute medical resident in a Los Angeles emergency room, he examined a six-year-old girl after she'd been in an automobile accident. This child had a goiter, bones that appeared to be those of a younger child (on x-ray exam), and was a deaf-mute. Such findings would typically make a physician suspect the child to have had severe hypothyroidism since birth however, Dr....

Fish Fat Omega3 Oils

The fats naturally present in fish that swim in cold waters, known as omega-3 fatty acids or fish oils, are all polyunsaturated. These fats are crucial for brain tissue. They lower your cholesterol levels and protect against heart disease. Mackerel, albacore tuna, salmon, sardines, and lake trout, which have a layer of fat to keep them warm in cold water, are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, whale meat and seal meat are enormous sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These foods were once the...

Respect for Persons or Patient Autonomy

Respect for persons means to respect that each person is a human being with full human rights. That means he or she has a right to be fully informed about all things involving his or her care, his or her body, or things being done to his or his body (if you're pregnant, you also have the right to know about everything that affects the fetus you're carrying), and to make his or her own decisions about care based on accurate information. A health-care provider has a duty to respect your...

The Normal Thyroid in Pregnancy

It was customary in ancient Egypt to tie a fine thread around the neck of a young bride when it broke, it meant she was pregnant. It's normal for the thyroid gland to enlarge slightly during pregnancy because the placenta makes a hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), that stimulates the mother's thyroid gland. Researchers have found that HCG has a very similar molecular structure to thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Increased TSH causes enlarged thyroid glands (goiters), such as with an...

Survival Rates

It is impossible to give statistics regarding the rates and lengths of survival from papillary thyroid cancer because papillary cancers range from tiny occult (meaning hidden) cancers, which have no effect on your life span if left untreated, to distantly metastatic tall cell variant papillary cancers that can dramatically affect your life span if left untreated. In general, most people with papillary thyroid cancer have a typical papillary cancer with excellent long-term survival, provided...

Are There Natural Therapies for Graves Disease

Some patient literature suggests Graves' disease can be treated using natural or alternative means through a goitrogenic diet and herbs that supposedly support thyroid function. Goitrogenic foods, discussed in Chapter 3, are foods that can block thyroid hormone formation (for example, foods from the Brassica family), essentially working like antithyroid drugs. Some laypeople wonder whether large quantities of goitrogenic foods can cause hypothyroidism. Unfortunately, this is highly unlikely...

Spontaneous Remission of Graves Disease

In rare cases, Graves' disease can go into remission without any treatment, which may explain why some people go into remission on antithyroid medication, too. If a person's thyrotoxicosis is mild enough to be controlled on beta-blockers alone, the rate of remission is similar to people on antithyroid drugs over the same period of time. Thyroid experts have theorized that removing certain stressors, which may have triggered the autoimmune disease in the first place, could help lead to...

Misuse of Thyroid Hormone

Thyroid hormone has a shady history of inappropriate use in the past. Throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and even 1970s, overweight women were frequently prescribed levothy-roxine sodium as a weight loss drug and told that it would speed up their metabolisms, resulting in the desired weight loss. This practice is known as off-label prescribing and was the source of countless cases of thyrotoxicosis, which frequently went untreated, harming these women. It also led to many women being misdiagnosed...

The Genetic Link

There is good evidence that some papillary and follicular thyroid cancers run in families, although such thyroid cancers are still exceedingly rare among the far larger number of non-inherited papillary thyroid cancers. Since there is not yet enough knowledge about the specific genes responsible for the few inherited cases, there is not yet a role for genetic testing. In addition, there are a few unusual genetic syndromes, such as Gardner's syndrome, Carney's complex, and Alagille syndrome,...

Fruits and Veggies

Another easy way of boosting fiber content is to know how much fiber your fruits and vegetables pack per serving. All fruits, beans (or legumes), and vegetables listed here show measurements for insoluble fiber, which is good not only for colon health but for your heart. Some of these numbers may surprise you grams of fiber (based on v cup unless beans otherwise specified) grams of fiber (based on 1 2 cup unless vegetables otherwise specified) Baked potato with skin (1 large) 4.0 It's important...

Word About Our Voice

In most cases, both of us are speaking to you within each chapter. Since we've spent our lives and careers immersed in thyroid disease, sometimes we felt it necessary to share experiences, personal insights or opinions, and perspectives from our individual academic disciplines. In some cases, there is a principal chapter author. We will indicate in parentheses who is speaking to you when you see my or I, as in I (Ken) or I (Sara). Otherwise, we've tried to...

Beta Blockers

As discussed in Chapter 4, thyrotoxicosis increases the body's sensitivity to adrenaline by increasing the number of beta-adrenergic receptors (also called beta-receptors) in many of the cells of the body. This results in many of the symptoms associated with thyrotoxicosis, particularly symptoms of rapid heart rate, palpitations, and anxiety. In fact, blocking these beta-receptors can alleviate these symptoms and can prevent severe effects on the heart (see Chapter 25). Beta-blockers are drugs...

Addisons Disease

Addison's disease is caused by your adrenal glands failing to make cortisol and other steroid hormones the adrenal products your body needs to function properly. This is rare among thyroid patients, but it tends to occur more frequently in a person with pernicious anemia, discussed later, which is commonly found in thyroid patients. Addison's disease is an autoimmune destruction of the adrenal glands however, loss of adrenal function can be consequent to trouble with the pituitary gland.

Pill Sizes Strengths of T4

Levothyroxine (T4) pills now come in a wide range of strengths. All of them, within the same brand, are the same physical size and shape, but there is considerable difference in the amount of T4 contained in each strength of pill. They range from 25 micrograms (0.025 milligrams) to 300 micrograms (0.3 milligrams). Because of the wide variety of pill strengths, your doctor should not need you to cut pills in half or take different size pills on different days. Sometimes, I need to put my...

Book

The Thyroid Sourcebook (1st edition, 1993 4th edition, 2000) The Gynecological Sourcebook (1st edition, 1994 4th edition, 2003) The Pregnancy Sourcebook (1st edition, 1995 3rd edition, 1999) The Fertility Sourcebook (1st edition, 1995 3rd edition, 2002) The Breastfeeding Sourcebook (1st edition, 1995 3rd edition, 2000) The Breast Sourcebook (1st edition, 1996 2nd edition, 1999) The Gastrointestinal Sourcebook (1997) Managing Your Diabetes (1998) The Thyroid Sourcebook for Women (1st edition,...

Biological Causes of Obesity

The physiological cause of obesity is eating more calories than you burn. People gain weight for two reasons they may eat excessively (often excessive amounts of nutritious foods), which results in daily consumption of just too many calories or they may eat moderately, but simply be too inactive for the calories they do ingest. Genetic makeup can predispose some body types to obesity earlier in life because of thrifty genes. But, in general, experts in nutrition agree that genetics plays only a...

Radiation Exposure to the Neck During Childhood

In the 1940s and 1950s, many conditions were treated with external beam radiation therapy (XRT) in the belief that it was therapeutic. For example, some physicians believed that sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) could be caused by a baby's thymus gland (located in the mid-upper chest) pushing on the airway (clearly a false idea in the light of modern knowledge). They gave x-ray therapy (XRT) to babies to shrink their thymus glands. Other physicians felt that bad acne lesions or recurrent...

What You Should Know About Ethical Guidelines in Health Care

Making an informed decision has to do with understanding what you are ethically owed as a patient by your health-care provider. It also means understanding how certain barriers can interfere with your getting the information you need to consent to certain treatments, and or becoming educated about your options. In a very general way, Western health care revolves around four basic guiding ethical principles known as respect for persons, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice.

Diagnosing Hashimotos Disease

The signs of Hashimoto's disease are not at all obvious. In its early stages, a goiter can develop as a result of inflammation in the thyroid gland. The goiter is usually firm but is not tender. The goiter's presence can suggest Hashimoto's disease, but it is usually suspected because of the sudden recognition of symptoms of hypothyroidism or detection of an elevated TSH level during routine medical evaluations. Hashimoto's disease is frequently missed as a diagnosis, however. Often, symptoms...

Mixtures of T3 and T4

Since the thyroid gland normally releases 80 percent of its thyroid hormone as T4 and 20 percent as T3, it seems logical to make a tablet that combines both T4 and T3 together in a similar ratio. Some pills manufactured do just that. Unfortunately, this type of pill cannot do the same thing as a normal thyroid gland that releases a constant, steady stream of both hormones all day and night. Instead, the pill releases both the T4 and T3 completely over one to three hours. Careful consideration...

Hashimotos Thyroiditis

Like other autoimmune diseases, a tendency for Hashimoto's disease is also inherited, but much of the time Hashimoto's disease strikes adults over age thirty (though many younger women have also been diagnosed with it), and it is much more frequently diagnosed in women. Statistically, one in five women will likely develop Hashimoto's disease in her lifetime. Hashimoto's disease is caused by abnormal autoantibodies and white blood cells attacking and damaging thyroid cells. Eventually, this...

Natural Thyroid Hormone

Natural thyroid hormone, consisting of dried extracts of pig thyroid glands, is available by prescription under the brand name Armour. This is what my grandmother took years ago, along with millions of other thyroid patients of yesteryear. The patients who take it usually do just fine, but patients on natural thyroid hormone remain less balanced than those taking pure levothyroxine sodium, which offers precise dosing designed to keep people well balanced. The problem with natural thyroid...

Parathyroid Hormone and Calcium Regulation

Here's a glimpse of a day in the life of normal parathyroid glands. The parathyroid glands make parathyroid hormone (PTH). PTH works on two major body organs the kidneys and the bones. PTH tells the kidneys to keep calcium in the blood and, at the same time, instructs the kidneys to release phosphorus into the urine. This raises calcium while lowering phosphorus in the blood. PTH also converts vitamin D from less active to more active forms. Activated vitamin D works on the intestines, helping...

Thyroid and What Does It Do

I (Ken) am often amazed, when talking with educated and articulate patients, some of whom have received years of medical treatments for a thyroid disorder, how little they know about their thyroid gland. This chapter describes the thyroid gland, covering its development, location in the body, and function. You will see how it produces thyroid hormone and what role this critical hormone plays in your body. I discuss the body's natural control systems, including the pituitary thermostat, which...

The Wise T4 Shopper

Some rulings by the FDA have allowed pharmacists to substitute different brands of T4 for the particular one that your physician requested (called generic substitution) without permission from the physician. Sometimes this translates into a cost savings to your insurance company. Sometimes this practice results in a greater profit margin for the pharmacy. Sometimes the co-payments on your insurance-subsidized prescription end up costing you more than the retail price if you chose not to use...

Why Do I Still Feel Hypothyroid

If you have normal TSH levels but still have symptoms of hypothyroidism, then you will be relieved to know that the symptoms that persist are not likely to be related to your hypothyroidism and you can, at last, investigate other causes and remedies. The goal of treating hypothyroidism is to restore your thyroid levels to normal (indicated by normal TSH). The hypothyroid state in your body may exist along with other problems. Ask people who are not hypothyroid if they're tired, depressed,...

Postpartum Thyroiditis Blues or Postpartum Depression

If you look at the symptoms of hypothyroidism in Chapter 3, it's easy to see how they can be confused with symptoms of postpartum depression or the maternal blues, which affect as many as 70 percent of all women after delivery. Symptoms of maternal blues are frequent crying episodes, mood swings, and feelings of sadness, low energy, anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, and irritability. Women who experience these should find comfort in knowing that they are normal and will pass on their own in a...

Thyroid Gland

A goiter is an enlarged thyroid gland. Many years ago, people's thyroid glands were large enough to see at a glance. Goiters were considered signs of beauty, i often depicted in paintings of Peter Paul Rubens, the seventeenth-century Flemish painter. In the late 1980s, while traveling through Italy, I (Ken) saw that nearly every Etruscan funeral urn in Sienna depicted a figure with a prominent goiter. Most of these goiters were the result of iodine deficiency, most severe in the Alpine regions...

High Cholesterol Hypercholesterolemia and Hypothyroidism

Cholesterol is a whitish, waxy fat made by the liver and also absorbed from food in your diet. It is also known as a lipid, the umbrella name for the many different fats found in the body. Cholesterol is needed to make many hormones as well as cell mem branes. Hypothyroidism can increase cholesterol in people whose cholesterol levels would ordinarily be normal while euthyroid. But if you have high cholesterol that predates your hypothyroidism, your already high cholesterol level can jump off...

Finding a Thyroid Nodule

Most thyroid nodules are found as obvious lumps in the lower front of the neck, seen by the person in a mirror or by a friend or family member. Sometimes a physician will find a nodule during a physical examination. This may be prompted by a complaint of a sore throat, usually completely unrelated to the nodule, but serving as a reason to focus on the neck, resulting in the nodule being found by accident. If your neck was exposed to radiation therapy during childhood, you have increased chances...

The T4T3 Conversion Problem Theory

Internet sites and patient books frequently state that in many people, T4 does not convert into T3 properly at the cellular level, which supposedly explains why many patients with normal TSH levels are still hypothyroid. There are even doctors quoted in some materials (with questionable expertise in thyroidology) who explain why T4 T3 conversion fails in many hypothyroid people. As we discuss in Chapter 3, it is absolutely imperative that you understand this entire T3 T4 conversion problem...

Skin Changes

Thyrotoxicosis may cause your skin to develop a fine, silky texture and feel moist with remarkably few wrinkles. Because of enhanced perspiration, the constant moisture may cause a rash from inflamed pores. Sometimes there may be areas of the skin that darken, particularly in the creases of the palms and areas that become abraded. There may be areas that itch, and sometimes the skin becomes sensitive to touch, swelling with minimal contact so that you can seemingly write your name on the skin...

The Thyroid Cyst

Thyroid cysts present a special challenge for your physician. As in the case of solid thyroid nodules, you don't need to worry about small cysts of 1.0 centimeter (0.4 inch) or less in diameter. When the cyst is larger than this, you'll need to have it evaluated properly for two reasons. First, it might contain a thyroid cancer growing from the wall of the cyst or from the solid portions of a complex nodule. Second, the cyst might grow quite large and cause pain or discomfort, sometimes...

Thyrotoxicosis in Older Persons

Hyperthyroidism from Graves' disease (see Chapters 4 and 6) or a nodule (see Chapter 8) occurs in less than 1 percent of the population over sixty. In fact, it is less than one-tenth as common as hypothyroidism in the same population. When it does occur, the symptoms are not obvious and do not clearly indicate to the doctor that you have Graves' disease in the same way as they do in a younger person. Similar to hypothy-roidism, hyperthyroidism can be insidious in the over-sixty crowd it can...

Thyroiditis

Thyroiditis means inflammation of the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism can develop from thyroiditis, and the most common cause of thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, which we discuss thoroughly in Chapter 5. In fact, Hashimoto's disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in North America. There are other kinds of thyroiditis that are different from Hashimoto's thyroiditis that can cause either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism (see Chapter 5), including...

The Specialist Standard of Care

The specialist standard of care is higher than the legal standard. This is the standard of care according to published, peer-reviewed guidelines by a professional association pertaining to the particular specialty. For thyroid specialists, the professional association guidelines are published by a few different groups, including the American Thyroid Association, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, the Endocrine Society, and so on. According to the specialist standard of care,...

Why Is the Conversion Problem Theory Harmful

The T4 T3 conversion problem statements are used to support the theory that natural thyroid hormone, questionable herbal concoctions that help with T4 T3 conversion, or regular and chronic T3 supplementation is preferable to, or healthier than, taking levothyroxine sodium (factory-made T4) at the appropriate dose. Thyroxine (T4) is the major product of the thyroid gland and is essentially a prohormone with minimal (if, debatably, any) activity of its own. It has a long and stable half-life in...

Burnout

Burnout usually occurs in people who are in caregiving roles or professions, such as nursing, therapists of any kind (including occupational therapists or speech therapists), clinicians, and unpaid caregivers. Child-care workers, teachers, and elder-care workers are also vulnerable to burnout. The term burnout is now a common term in all healthcare literature it is characterized by physical and emotional exhaustion, feeling per sonally disconnected with one's friends and family, and feeling...

Treating Hyperthyroidism

Treatment for hyperthyroidism depends on the cause and can involve decreasing the function of the thyroid gland using radioactive iodine, surgery in the case of large goiters that may be multinodular, or just alleviating the symptoms of thyrotoxicosis in cases where thyroiditis is the cause, which frequently resolves on its own. Details of treatment and management of these conditions can be found in Chapter 5, on Hashimoto's disease (for treating Hashitoxicosis) and thyroiditis Chapter 6, on...

Misinformation

As we discussed in the Introduction, thyroid patients are usually forced to self-educate about thyroid disease. In fact, this was certainly my (Sara's) experience when I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in the early 1980s. Indeed, throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, it was difficult to find information on thyroid disease. By the late 1990s, as the Internet became much more accessible and popular, thyroid patients began surfing for thyroid information thyroid websites and list-servs abounded,...

Apathetic Hyperthyroidism

Apathetic hyperthyroidism refers to hyperthyroidism without clear symptoms of thyrotoxicosis (see Chapter 4). Normally, people who are thyrotoxic as a result of hyperthy-roidism have a racing heart, enlarged thyroid gland, tremor, restlessness and anxiety, and signs of thyroid eye disease (see Chapter 23). In apathetic hyperthyroidism, the telltale signs doctors count on to diagnose hyperthyroidism are absent instead, a person with apathetic hyperthyroidism may even seem calm and mild-mannered....

Anatomical Assessment

The following chart outlines how we classify the size of a goiter. A goiter is felt on exam but not able to be seen when the neck is fully extended. A goiter is felt on exam and also visible only when the neck is fully extended. The goiter is visible when the neck is in a normal position, and exam isn't needed. The goiter is large enough that it can be seen easily at some distance away. The normal size of a thyroid gland is measured in weight (grams), roughly corresponding to the same volume...

Do You Have RTH

As discussed in Chapter 19, RTH has been misunderstood by other authors of thyroid material for patients and is sometimes misconstrued and misinterpreted to explain why thyroid patients feel hypothyroid despite normal TSH levels. Obviously, it's exceedingly unlikely that you have RTH however, how does this problem get discovered The diagnosis and evaluation of RTH is very difficult and outside the expertise and abilities of most physicians. Usually, an astute physician (often a pediatrician or...

What Happens in Graves Disease

In Chapter 5, we described what happens in autoimmune disease and how the autoimmune response is triggered. With Graves' disease, an abnormal antibody is produced, called TSA (thyroid stimulating antibody), also known as TSI (thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin). TSA stimulates the thyroid gland to vastly overproduce thyroid hormone. Normally controlled by the pituitary gland, the thyroid's triggers are tricked into being stimulated by abnormal antibodies. This particular trigger is the thyroid...

Glossary

Acute suppurative thyroiditis a rare form of bacterial thyroiditis, where pus and inflammation occur treated with antibiotics. Adam's apple the thyroid cartilage. ALARA acronym for as low as reasonably achievable. Amiodarone a potent medicine used to treat heart rhythm disturbances, infamous for causing different types of thyroid problems. anaplastic thyroid cancer a very rare but aggressive, hard-to-treat thyroid cancer with poor outcomes accounts for about 1.6 percent of all thyroid cancers....

Contents

Introduction Why We're Passionate About Thyroid Disease xv 1 What Is the Thyroid, and What Does It Do 3 How It Formed, Where It Is, What It Does 3 An Introduction to Thyroid Hormone 9 2 Tests and Labs Diagnosing Thyroid Disease 13 Tssts That Measure Thyroid Hormone Levels 14 TSH The Most Sensitive Tsst to Assess Thyroid Hormone Status 15 Thyroglobulin The Specific Thyroid Protein 18 Thyroid Hormone-Binding Proteins 19 Measuring Thyroid Antibodies 20 Dynamic Tssts of Thyroid Function 22 X-Rays,...

Who Is Vulnerable to Autoimmune Disease

Generally, anyone can develop an autoimmune disorder. Some diseases are hereditary, while other diseases, although not directly hereditary, run strongly in families. This is referred to as a genetic tendency or inherited predisposition. Most autoimmune diseases seem to have a genetic tendency with several members of the family showing the same or similar types of autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune thyroid disease is no exception. Often, multiple family members and generations of family members,...

How It Formed Where It Is What It Does

When my youngest son was nearly four years old, a preschool teacher gave him a standardized test to assess his vocabulary and basic knowledge. Halfway through a successful test session, Jake was told, Point to your thigh. Jake triumphantly touched the center of his neck, just above his breastbone. Wrong exclaimed the teacher. Watching the test, I was surprised. What do you mean I said, He thought you meant his thyroid gland. Where is the thyroid gland she asked me, clearly at a loss to conceive...

Gestational Thyroid Disease Thyroid Disease During Pregnancy

With two rare exceptions, discussed further on, the causes of thyroid disease during pregnancy are the same as in the general population. The most common thyroid diseases in pregnancy mirror the most common thyroid diseases in the general population. As in the general population, Hashimoto's disease (see Chapter 5) is the most common thyroid disease in pregnancy, followed by Graves' disease (see Chapter 6). In both cases, the risk spikes during the first three months of pregnancy, and then...

Gestational Hyperthyroidism

Diagnosis and treatment of hyperthyroidism during pregnancy presents some unique fetal and maternal considerations. First, the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth is increased if hyperthyroidism goes untreated. Second, the overall risks to you and the baby increase if the disease persists or is first recognized late in pregnancy. As in non-pregnant women, specific hyperthyroid symptoms usually indicate a problem, but here again, some of the classic symptoms, such as heat intolerance or...

Restlessness and Anxiety

The typical person with Graves' disease is chronically restless, to the point where he or she cannot sit still for a minute, and is terribly anxious and worried. As discussed in Chapter 4, this is partly because of the increased sensitivity to adrenergic hormones (adrenaline and related hormones) that comes with thyrotoxicosis. There is often a distinct tremor of the hands, also resulting from the adrenaline sensitivity. In Chapter 4, we discussed how thyrotoxicosis has many crossover symptoms...

Depression and Anxiety

If you look at the list of symptoms that comprise hypothyroidism (see Chapter 3) and thyrotoxicosis (see Chapter 4), many of them overlap and collide with symptoms of depression and anxiety. This chapter discusses ways to cope with and manage depression and anxiety, often a consequence of untreated hypothyroidism or thyrotoxicosis. It's important to understand that depression is a vast topic, and there are many different types of depression. For the purposes of this chapter, we'll be limiting...

Anxiety Panic Disorder and Thyroid Disease

We discuss both generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic attacks in Chapter 4, because they are commonly confused with, or aggravated by, thyrotoxicosis. In that chapter, we also discuss the hormone system in the body called the adrenergic system, which releases adrenaline (also known as epinephrine) and noradrenaline (norepi-nephrine). Normally, these hormones are released in a fight or flight response when you are scared, shocked, or highly excited. It is also these hormones that trigger...

Managing Anxiety and Panic

If you've ruled out thyrotoxicosis, and do not require a beta-blocker, talk therapy (specifically, cognitive behavioral therapy), discussed earlier, is an excellent way to manage anxiety and panic. This style of therapy can teach you to anticipate the situations and bodily sensations that are associated with panic attacks having this awareness can actually help to control the attacks. There are also a number of mental exercises that can help to control hyperventilating or fearful thoughts that...

Low Blood Sugar or Thyrotoxicosis

Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, triggers the very same adrenaline rush reaction that can occur in a panic attack. Low blood sugar can be measured, and a reading below 50 mg dl (or in Canada, 3.5 mmol L) is considered too low. But many people assume they suffer from low blood sugar even when their blood sugar levels are normal because they feel shaky and irritable when hungry, which is relieved by food. In fact, the common feature to panic attacks and true hypoglycemic attacks is a...

Massage

Massage therapy can be beneficial whether you're receiving the massage from your spouse or from a massage therapist trained in any one of dozens of techniques from shiatsu to Swedish massage. If you're hypothyroid, massage therapy may help to improve circulation and depression if you're thyrotoxic, it can help to relieve anxiety and calm you down. In the East, massage was extensively written about in The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine, published in 2700 b.c. (the text that frames...

Hypothyroidism

In adults, hypothyroidism can range from a minor annoyance, easily remedied, to a major medical problem with important, yet temporary, consequences. On the other hand, hypothyroid newborns and infants risk permanent mental retardation if thyroid hormone therapy is not started right away. To combat the effects of iodine deficiency on causing hypothyroidism in the developing countries, the World Health Organization and a number of social service organizations have made iodine supplementation an...

Believers in Wilsons Thyroid Syndrome

Wilson's syndrome is not a recognized thyroid disease or condition by any conventional thyroid practitioners or by the American Thyroid Association. Named by Dr. Denis E. Wilson, it borrows from some of Broda Barnes's theories about low body temperature as a sign of unrecognized hypothyroidism in spite of normal thyroid lab tests. In this case, Wilson, too, suggests that a host of nonspecific ill-health symptoms, which can be attributed to hundreds of conditions, combined with low body...

Subacute Thyroiditis A Pain in the Neck

Subacute thyroiditis is also known as painful thyroiditis and de Quervain's thyroiditis, after the Swiss physician who first described it. This form of thyroiditis seems to be particularly prevalent in North America although still quite uncommon. It's suspected that subacute thyroiditis has a viral cause, but there is not yet sufficient real proof that this condition is viral in origin. The condition ranges from extremely mild to severe and runs its own course the way a normal flu virus would....

The Healing Environment Feng Shui

Pronounced fung shway, this is the ancient practice of creating energy and harmony through your environmental surroundings (landscaping, interior design, and architecture). People tend to think of feng shui as something that can bring wealth to you (as in money corners) or romance (as in hanging certain items over the bed), but this is in fact not what authentic feng shui consultants look for. Harmony has many elements COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIES FOR THYROID PATIENTS to it, and where you live, how...

Iodine Excess

Too much iodine is believed to be responsible for triggering goiters and thyroid disorders, too. On the other hand, in countries where iodine has been made plentiful in the food supply, such as in the United States, hypothyroidism from iodine deficiency has disappeared while hypothyroidism from autoimmune disease has skyrocketed. It seems that excess iodine in the diet stimulates the immune system to create antibodies that attack the thyroid gland and causes it to stop making normal amounts of...

High Blood Sugar

Thyrotoxicosis, as we discussed in Chapter 4, can increase your need for insulin if you have type 1 diabetes or in some cases of type 2 diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes (as one in four adults over forty-five do), you are already at a much greater risk of heart attack or stroke because of blood vessel complications. It is critical that you have your diabetes medications or insulin and your blood-sugar targets reassessed by your doctor, since they can be thrown off by the symptoms of Graves'...

Driving While Hypothyroid

People who are moderately to severely hypothyroid, with TSH levels higher than 10, should not be driving a vehicle of any kind, flying a plane, or operating heavy machinery. These rules do not apply to the vast majority of those who are mildly hypothyroid (usually with levels 5 to 10). Thyroid cancer patients preparing for withdrawal scans (see Chapters 2 and 9), whose TSH levels will typically go above 30 while in preparation, should most definitely not be driving while hypothyroid. Clearly,...

HRT Menopause and Thyroid Disease

The average woman will live until age seventy-eight, meaning that she will live one-third of her life after her menopause. Since thyroid disorders affect women so much more frequently, particularly as they age, balancing thyroid hormone replacement with the confusion surrounding traditional estrogen and progesterone hormone replacement is challenging. Since heart disease can be a major complication of hypothy-roidism or thyrotoxicosis, in the 1980s and 1990s, women with thyroid disease were...

Preparation for RAI Treatment of Thyroid Cancer

A major difference between RAI treatment for Graves' disease or ATNs and RAI treatment for thyroid cancer is the importance of proper preparation for treatment. Radioactive iodine uptake is high in thyrotoxic Graves' disease and autonomous toxic nodules. On the other hand, whereas normal thyroid tissue takes up iodine at 1 percent per gram, papillary and follicular thyroid cancers take up iodine at from 0.01 to 0.1 percent per gram, making it important to use the best preparation to optimize...

Psychiatric Misdiagnosis

Psychiatrists see so many thyroid patients who have been referred to them as psychiatric patients that thyroid function tests have now become standard industry practice for most psychiatric referrals. When people experience the exhaustion of too much thyroid hormone and the natural anxiety that accompanies it, but do not notice or report other physical manifestations such as a fast pulse or hyperdefecation (which can also be attributed to anxiety), they are often misdiagnosed with anxiety...

Causes of Hypothyroidism in Children and Teens

Just as in adults, Hashimoto's thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in industrialized countries. Antithyroid antibodies in the blood, particularly antithy-roid peroxidase and antithyroglobulin antibodies, are present in more than 95 percent of children with Hashimoto's thyroiditis (also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis). Although occasional children with mild Hashimoto's thyroiditis might regain full normal thyroid function, most become more severely hypothyroid over...

RAI Causes Other Cancers

Many people treated for thyroid cancer are concerned that RAI could increase their risks of getting other cancers. The two most common cancers rumored to be linked to RAI are leukemia and breast cancer. With respect to leukemia, even with a single RAI dose of more than 800 millicuries, fewer than one out of two hundred people would go on to develop leukemia, which matches the risk in the general population. With respect to breast cancer, a study published in 2000 found an association between...

Screening Family Members for Graves Disease

Many Graves' disease patients wonder whether their children or other family members will develop it they may also wonder whether genetic screening is available for Graves' disease. Although it is clear that autoimmune thyroid disease has genetic risk, as of this writing, no specific gene has been identified for screening. Even if this were the case, there is no advantage to genetic screening for Graves' disease or Hashimoto's disease because neither is necessarily life-threatening, both are...

Thyroid Hormone Replacement

Although we will get into thyroid hormone replacement in much greater detail in Chapter 10, this section is designed to give you a beginning understanding of thyroid hormone therapy for hypothyroidism. Treatment for hypothyroid children and the elderly is discussed in greater detail in Chapters 15 and 17. In the United States, more than fifteen million prescriptions of thyroid hormone per year are sold. Even if only part of your thyroid gland was surgically removed, thyroid hormone replacement...

Diagnosing Thyrotoxicosis andor Hyperthyroidism

Thyrotoxicosis can be easily discovered with elevated free T4 or T3 levels and a TSH level that is lower than normal (usually less than 0.2). See Chapter 2 for more details on lab testing for TSH and free T4 and T3. The challenge for diagnosing either hyperthyroidism and or thyrotoxicosis is similar for hypothyroidism the symptoms can overlap with stress, anxiety, panic disorder, low blood sugar, and cardiovascular diseases. For women, PMS and perimenopause can mask, or be mistaken for,...

Dry Eyes

Some symptoms of TED are not unique to people suffering from thyroid disease. Dry eyes are so common that a new syndrome has emerged in general medical practice, known as dry eye syndrome. It's estimated that roughly eleven million North Americans suffer from dry eyes, meaning that tear production is inadequate or the tears evaporate so quickly that your eyes are left gritty and irritated with every blink. Sometimes, dry eyes are a result of autoimmune disease against the tear glands and...

An Introduction to Thyroid Hormone

Here, we'll introduce you to thyroid hormone, a key player in understanding how the thyroid works. In Chapter 10, we'll discuss thyroid hormone used as replacement hormone for treating various thyroid diseases in much greater detail. Thyroid hormone is essential for our existence, affecting every single cell in the body. In a very simplified view, thyroid hormone serves as the speed control for cells, controlling their speed of life. There are a few different forms of this hormone. As already...

Diagnosing Graves Disease

The signs of Graves' disease are often obvious you may develop a goiter and display all the classic signs of thyrotoxicosis. Or you may just develop thyroid eye disease symptoms, which are usually telltale signs of Graves' disease. When the signs are obvi ous, your doctor simply confirms the diagnosis with blood tests that check your thyroid hormone levels and sometimes test for the presence of antithyroid antibodies in the blood. If you're not showing any blatant signs of hyperthyroidism but...

Thyroid Hormone The Inside Scoop

Thyroid hormone is the common thread to most thyroid problems. Most people with thyroid conditions end up taking thyroid hormone. People with hypothyroidism (see Chapter 3) require thyroid hormone. Those with thyrotoxicosis from hyperthyroidism (see Chapter 4), after surgery or radioactive iodine treatment (see Chapter 12), eventually need thyroid hormone because they eventually become hypothyroid. And thyroid cancer therapy (see Chapter 9) starts with surgical removal of the thyroid gland...

Euthyroid Sick Syndrome as a Cause of Low Grade Hypothyroidism

There is a condition known as euthyroid sick syndrome (ESS). Some books create the false impression that this is the cause of Wilson's syndrome, a fake disease that we discuss further. ESS is a leftover term from the days when T4 levels were measured using tests that sometimes failed to provide an accurate picture of the free T4 levels. When patients were severely ill, such as in a coma in the intensive care unit or on a ventilator in the burn unit, various body factors were released that made...

Radioactive Thyroid Tests

Many of us have come to fear radioactive substances, sometimes correctly, with so many terrible historical associations Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the Marshall Islands, Three Mile Island, and Chernobyl, to name just a few. Indeed, a very important guideline in the field of radiation safety is to make sure that anyone's exposure to radiation is as low as reasonably achievable (this phrase is referred to by its acronym, ALARA). On the other hand, thyroid disease was the first type of illness in which...

Thyrotoxicosis and Obesity

In most cases of thyrotoxicosis (see Chapter 4), some weight loss occurs as the body and metabolism speed up. This is why thyroid hormone used to be wrongly prescribed as a diet drug. However, the hidden danger of thyrotoxicosis in obese people is that it overworks the heart in particular, which can be catastrophic for obese individuals with cardiovascular complications. Palpitations (sometimes because of atrial fibrillation) and angina (both discussed more in Chapter 25) can greatly increase...

Aromatherapy

Essential oils, comprised from plants (mostly herbs and flowers), can help with many thyroid-related symptoms, particularly those associated with hypothyroidism. The easiest way to use essential oils is in a warm bath you simply put a few drops of the oil into the bath, and sit and relax in it for about ten minutes. The aroma from the oils can also be inhaled (put a few drops in a bowl of hot water, lean over with a towel over your head, and breathe) diffused (using a lamp ring, or a ceramic...

Broda O Barnes Followers

Reams of material, and an entire movement of sorts, support the ideas of late physician Broda O. Barnes, M.D., Ph.D., author of Hypothyroidism The Unsuspected Illness (1976) and Solved The Riddle of Heart Attacks (1976). Barnes also wrote about the alleged connections between hypoglycemia and hypothyroidism. Barnes practiced from the 1930s through the 1970s. His ideas were recycled by Stephen E. Langer, M.D., in a more recent book called Solved The Riddle of Illness, released in its third...

Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure means that the heart is weakened and not pumping well. This is usually caused by long-standing problems such as damaged heart valves, high blood pressure, damage to the heart muscle, or, in rare cases, a variety of heart defects that could have been present at birth congenital heart defects . Your heart's job is to pump blood through the lungs to pick up oxygen and release carbon dioxide, then throughout the body to provide oxygen and nutrients. If your heart isn't...

Yoga

Yoga is not just about various stretches or postures, but is actually a way of life for many. It is part of a whole science of living known as the ayurveda. The ayurveda is an ancient Indian approach to health and wellness that's stood up quite well to the test of time it's roughly three thousand years old . Essentially, it divides up the universe into three basic constitutions or energies, known as doshas. The three doshas are based on wind vata , fire pitta , and earth kapha . In ayurvedic...

Reflexology

Western reflexology was developed by Dr. William Fitzgerald, an American ear, nose, and throat specialist, who described reflexology as zone therapy. But in fact reflexology is practiced in several cultures, including Egypt, India, Africa, China, and Japan. In the same way as the ears are a map to the organs in Chinese medicine, with valuable pressure points that stimulate the life force, in reflexology, the hands and feet play the same role. For example, on a reflexology map the thyroid gland...

Supportive Literature

Anaplastic Thyroid Carcinoma Behavior, Biology, and Therapeutic Approaches. Thyroid 8, no. 8 1998 715-26. Ain, K. B. Management of Thyroid Cancer. In Diseases of the Thyroid, edited by L. E. Braverman, 287-317. Totowa, NJ Humana Press, Inc., 1997. Ain, K. B. Management of Undifferentiated Thyroid Cancer. Baillieres Best Practice and Research Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 14, no. 4 2000 615-29. Ain, K. B. Thyroid Malignancies. In Oncologic Therapies, edited by E. E. Vokes and...