Researchers Explore the Link Between Hypothyroidism (Low Thyroid) and Chronic Kidney Disease
The Thyroid Gland and The Job of the Endocrine System
The thyroid gland plays an important part in the overall foundation of the endocrine system, which controls hormone regulation within the body. The job of hormones is to stimulate specific cells into action within the body and encourage proper function. And as such, even small alterations in hormone levels can bring on a domino effect, which could create adverse conditions throughout the entire body. Common side effects of thyroid disorders include heart palpitations, anxiety, depression, weight gain, fatigue, and hair loss. In recent years, however, prominent researchers have begun to explore the impact of the thyroid on kidney disease.
The Link Between Chronic Kidney Disease and Thyroid Health
A study conducted by the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology revealed the results of a study conducted on a group of three thousand chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients who were tested for thyroid disease. It was found that almost ten percent of those individuals with chronic kidney disease also had hypothyroidism, which is thyroid disorder defined by low function of the thyroid gland. Additionally, it was found that the more advanced the kidney disease was, the higher possibility that the patient have hypothyroidism. This is demonstrated by the fact that the study found that seven percent of patients with mild CKD had hypothyroidism, while eighteen percent of patients with moderate CKD were diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
Researchers are not yet able to confirm the repercussion of the relationship between CKD and hypothyroidism (low thyroid function). In has been confirmed, however, that when hypothyroidism becomes more critical, it can lead to reduced heart function, which can in-turn lead to accelerated worsening of kidney function. Accordingly, the appearance of subclinical hypothyroidism in patients with chronic kidney disease could possibly mean that hypothyroidism is a risk factor for both cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease.
What is the Treatment for Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism can be treated quite easily by using thyroid hormone medicine. But the suggested treatment plan can be complicated if the patient has chronic kidney disease. The study by the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology revealed that further studies will examine if thyroid hormone can be harmful to patients with chronic kidney disease.
Undiagnosed Kidney Disease
The National Kidney Foundation reports that almost twenty million Americans could have kidney disease and not even know it. And early diagnoses can give physicians the critical time they need to address the relevant health issues which may occur as a result or in conjunction with kidney disease. Yearly urine tests are recommended by the The American Diabetes association for early diagnosis. Further, it is recommended by the foundation that the urine test should involve the more detailed test in which the urine is sent to a lab, rather than the physician merely using a dipstick in his/her office.
What Exactly is Chronic Kidney Disease?
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a severe illness that encompasses several stages over the course of years, in some cases, during which the loss of function within the kidneys. There are five stages of CKD, stage one being slight kidney damage and stage five being established kidney failure. In the past, scientists were able to pinpoint the causes of chronic kidney disease such as diabetes and hypertension. What researchers are just now beginning to discover, however, is that the thyroid disease called hypothyroidism, may also be linked to chronic kidney disease. This is an important discovery because it can lead to further research studies on thyroid function and how it is related to kidney disease, which possibly can reveal further theories as to how the medical community can prevent kidney disease in young individuals from developing later in their lives.
The idea that most individuals should receive annual exams was deserted many years ago. This is despite the fact that among 1200 random individuals surveyed, the majority stated that they felt an annual exam was necessary in order to achieve optimum preventive medical care. In order to be sure that kidney disease, diabetes, or thyroid disorders do not affect you, it is highly recommended that a professional health care provider be contacted and visited with regularly. Annual visits and biochemical analyses with your physician are important to test for these illnesses and, as always, early diagnosis can help treatment achieve more successful results.
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Unusual Thyroid Symptoms: How Thyroid Disorders Impact the Mind
In recent years, thyroid disorders have begin to receive a great deal of media attention. The mystery behind rising thyroid cancer rates has garnered a lot of press coverage, while the revelation of talk show host’s Oprah Winfrey’s thyroid issues sparked a spike in interest.
As a result of this media coverage, most of the common symptoms of thyroid disorders are now much more widely recognized than they were in the past. According to a number of thyroid health advocacy groups, public awareness of many thyroid disorders – especially hypothyroidism – is at an all-time high.
Today, the lethargy, depression, fogginess, and weight gain that millions of people – especially women – have long suffered in silence are now recognized as stemming from underactive thyroids. New advances in thyroid medication mean that even cases that once would have gone diagnosed and untreated are being addressed.
However, while significant advances have been made in increasing awareness of common thyroid symptoms, there’s just one problem – not every thyroid disorder has the same type of symptoms. While the common signs of hypothyroidism point the way to a large number of cases, some patients experience a different set of symptoms altogether – symptoms that manifest themselves not as physical problems, but as mental and emotional problems.
This week, we’ll take a look at some of the lesser-known symptoms of thyroid disorders that involve mental, emotional, psychological, and cognitive disturbances. Though less common than the physical signs of thyroid disorders, these mental and emotional symptoms are equally, if not more, debilitating to the patients who experience them.
Mental and Emotional Signs of Hypothyroidism
An underactive thyroid gland is behind the common condition known as hypothyroidism. Women are particularly vulnerable to this condition. In the majority of cases, the onset of hypothyroidism is marked by an increase in feelings of fatigue and lethargy, weight gain, a lack of motivation, and depression.
In some cases, hypothyroidism often develops very slowly, and it can be difficult to detect during the early stages. For some patients, emotional and mental changes are the first signs that something may be amiss. However, because of the sometimes-slow development of the disorder, patients may not attribute the mental and emotional changes to a physical disease. Instead, they may assume that these feelings are psychological and situational in nature.
In fact, medical practitioners often have the same difficulty distinguishing between mental and emotional distress that is caused by a patient’s personality, life experiences, and temperament and that which has its origins in a physical illness.
The two often feed off one another, as the experience of having an undiagnosed and untreated illness can spark genuine feelings of hopelessness and despair. Still, inexplicable or substantial changes in your emotional state could have a physical cause, and should be brought to the attention of your doctor.
Common mental and emotional symptoms of hypothyroidism can include:
- A feeling of mental fogginess and slowed thinking
- Loss of motivation and enthusiasm
- Difficulty with short- and long-term memory
- A decline in analytical ability and comprehension
- Hopelessness and depression
- Paranoid thought patterns
- In severe cases, confusion and disorientation
Mental and Emotional Signs of Hyperthyroidism
The condition caused by an overactive thyroid gland is known as hyperthyroidism. The disease is much rarer than hypothyroidism, and typically, its symptoms are easier to detect.
An overactive thyroid gland speeds up many of the body’s normal functions, so patients with hyperthyroidism often experience symptoms such as a racing heart rate, rapid breathing, and restlessness.
The same patterns that underlie the physical signs of hyperthyroidism also cause the disorder’s mental and cognitive symptoms. In essence, hyperthyroid patients often find themselves on an emotional roller coaster that speeds rapidly through different frames of mind. If you or a loved one has observed any of the following symptoms, please bring them to the attention of your doctor as soon as possible.
Common mental and emotional symptoms of hyperthyroidism can include:
- Severe anxiety, stress, and tension
- Rapid mood swings
- Marked impatience
- Hyperactivity and restlessness
- Periods of fluctuating anxiety and depression
Although the mental and emotional symptoms of thyroid disorders can be distressing, the good news is that they tend to disappear quickly when the underlying endocrine imbalance is properly treated. Talk to your physician for a personalized assessment of any unusual emotional symptoms you’ve experienced.
New Breakthroughs and Discoveries in Thyroid Medication
Being diagnosed with a thyroid disorder can be a profoundly life-changing experience. For many newly-diagnosed patients, learning that most thyroid disorders are incurable and require life-long treatment can be daunting and depressing.
But recent advances in thyroid treatments make it possible for most people with thyroid disorders to enjoy full health and quality of life. Today’s sophisticated thyroid medications are precisely calibrated to target even minute variations in thyroid function and compensate for any surpluses or deficiencies in the body’s supplies of thyroid hormones.
There’s just one catch – because even small changes in thyroid function can cause major health problems, patients with thyroid disorders have to adhere very closely to their prescribed regimen of medication. Not only do you have to follow your doctor’s dosage and schedule instructions to the letter, but you also have to be on the lookout for other problems, such as potential reactions with other medications and short- and long-term supply issues.
Thyroid Medication and the Patients' Responsibility
Being a model thyroid patient also entails staying on top of new and emerging treatments for thyroid disorders. By keeping in close contact with your physician, you will increase the two-way communication which will help you to learn more about new treatment plans. This week, we’ll take a look at a few recent studies and reports that have offered up the latest news on thyroid medications.
Generic Version of Popular Hypothyroidism Medication Now Widely Available
Some patients who have been prescribed the popular hypothyroidism drug Synthroid have complained about the high costs involved with an ongoing, permanent drug regimen. The leading thyroid drug, manufactured by pharmaceutical Abbott Laboratories, can be costly, particularly for patients without medical insurance.
Although up-and-coming pharmaceutical manufacturer Mylan received FDA approval for its generic version of Synthroid in 2004, the company has encountered resistance in making the generic drug available to consumers. In addition to standard procedural delays, many state-level court cases had to be filed before the drug was admitted to approved drug lists across the country.
However, with news of a recent approval in state court in Florida, it appears that the tide may be turning for Mylan’s generic formulation. Only a few pending cases are left to be decided, and company representatives are confident that consumers across the United States will soon have full access to the drug.
Frequently-Prescribed Antibiotic May Interfere with Thyroid Medication
Among short-term drug regimens, antibiotics rank among the most frequently prescribed medications, and among antibiotics, the drug ciprofloxacin is many physicians’ first choice in the treatment of common ailments such as urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted diseases.
However, according to a recent bulletin published in the British Medical Journal, ciprofloxacin – which is commonly sold under the names Cipro, Ciproxin, Ciflox, and Ciprobay – may interfere with the thyroid-regulating action of levothyroxine, the most popular pharmaceutical treatment for hypothyroidism.
The study described the experience of one young woman with hypothyroidism who was prescribed the antibiotic ciprofloxacin. Within a period of a month, her thyroid hormone levels began fluctuating significantly, and her longstanding dosage of levothyroxine appeared to be inadequate to control her TSH levels.
Although the scientists who published the study did not offer a definitive conclusion, they hypothesized that something in the interaction between levothyroxine and ciprofloxacin may limit the body’s ability to absorb the levothyroxine properly. This, in turn, limits the ability of the drug to regulate thyroid hormone levels as intended. Patients with hypothyroidism should alert their physicians to the possibility of a negative drug interaction when being prescribed antibiotics, or any other type of medication.
Current Medication Protocol for Post-Op Thyroid Treatment Redundant, Study Shows
For some patients with thyroid cancer or advanced-stage thyroid disorders, surgical removal of the thyroid gland represents the best chance for restored health. However, because the thyroid gland plays such an important role in regulating the endocrine system and the body’s production and distribution of hormones, patients whose thyroid glands have been removed have to take thyroid hormone replacement drugs to compensate for the removed gland.
The longstanding protocol for patients whose thyroids have been removed is a combination of T3 and T4 hormones. Doctors surmised that because the thyroid gland is responsible for producing both of these hormones, patients without a thyroid gland would need to have both hormones artificially replaced.
However, the results of a recent study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University’s thyroid clinic found that even after thyroid gland removal, T3 levels often seem to regulate themselves without artificial replacement. In all but a few of the patients studied, post-surgery T3 levels remained stable. In only a few cases was a combination therapy that combined both T3 and T4 hormone replacement truly necessary.
If you’re concerned about finding the right thyroid medication regimen and sticking to it, consult with your doctor for the best insight into your unique health situation. Please check back each week for more of the breaking thyroid news you need!
Is it My Thyroid Gland?
The tiny thyroid gland plays a major role in regulating everything from our energy levels to our memory. If you’re a woman over the age of 30 and you’ve been experiencing unusual symptoms that you just can’t explain, the chances are good that your thyroid gland may be playing some part in the problem.
The small, butterfly-shaped thyroid gland may measure a miniscule two inches in diameter, but even minor fluctuations in its function can cause a staggeringly wide array of health problems.
What is the function of the Thyroid Gland?
The primary function of the thyroid gland is the production and distribution of the thyroid hormones T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). Even slight variances in the amount of these thyroid hormones can produce problems in virtually all of the major organ groups and body systems.
What are the Thyroid Disorders?
The two major types of thyroid disorders are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism is characterized by a lack of adequate thyroid hormones in the body, and it causes a system-wide slowdown that can leave you sluggish, exhausted, depressed, and overweight.
Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, comes about when the thyroid is thrown into overdrive and produces an excess of the thyroid hormones. This surplus speeds up many aspects of the body’s normal functions, resulting in anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, and rapid weight loss.
Who is at Risk?
Women are at the greatest risk of developing hypothyroidism. Although the disorder is relatively rare among women in their twenties, it is not entirely unheard, so don’t rule hypothyroidism out if you are a young woman who has been experiencing prolonged fatigue and exhaustion for no apparent reason.
However, while hypothyroidism remains a relatively rare occurrence among younger women, it is very common among their older counterparts. It is believed that over ten percent of all women over the age of 60 have some level of underactivity in their thyroid function and thyroid hormone production. Many of these cases go undiagnosed, perhaps in part due to the fact that many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism mirror common signs of aging and menopause.
Low Thyroid Function (Hypothyroidism) and its Symptoms
If you just aren’t feeling like your energetic old self these days, you might have hypothyroidism, the disorder that results from an underactive thyroid gland and a lack of adequate levels of thyroid hormone. Every patient with hypothyroidism experiences symptoms differently, but in general, the disorder tends to manifest itself in lethargy, fatigue, weight gain, and feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
Common Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
In addition to lethargy, depression, and weight gain, other common symptoms that may indicate low thyroid function include dry skin and hair, intolerance for cold temperatures, and menstrual abnormalities. Mood swings, memory loss, swallowing difficulties, swelling in the neck area, and voice hoarseness may also indicate a problem stemming from low thyroid function.
High Thyroid (Hyperthyroidism) and its Symptoms
Though it is far less common than hypothyroidism, an overactive thyroid gland – also known as hyperthyroidism – may also cause a number of strange and troubling symptoms. The good news is that hyperthyroidism is generally much easier to diagnose than is hypothyroidism, due to the fact that the striking symptoms associated with the disorder are very unique and are often grouped together in ways that are obvious to experienced physicians.
With a surplus of thyroid hormone in the body, hyperthyroidism speeds up many of the body’s normal functions. Heart palpitations and rapid heartbeats are a common sign of the disorder. Patients might experience a sudden intolerance for heat, even when others don’t feel hot at all.
Common Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
Disruptions in appetite and normal eating habits are common in hyperthyroidism, as is rapid weight loss without any significant reduction in calorie intake. Irritability and emotional volatility are also common signs, and patients with the disorder are often known to “fly off the handle” with little or no provocation.
Vision problems are another common symptom of hyperthyroidism. Patients with the disorder often develop a characteristic look of bulging eyes and an unblinking, fixed gaze that is sometimes referred to by doctors as the “thyroid stare.” Menstrual irregularities and infertility are also common, and patients with hyperthyroidism also often complain of muscle weakness, spasms, and cramps.
Talk to a Doctor
If you have experienced any of these symptoms, you should talk to a doctor who has experience in diagnosing and treating thyroid disorders and request a full evaluation. The good news is that a return to full health is often possible as long as you stick closely to your prescribed regimen of medication. Be sure to check back here each week for more thyroid news and information!
Thyroid Examinations are an Important Aspect of the Diagnosis of a Thyroid Disorder
A thyroid examination is an important tool that surgeons and endocrinologists use in the diagnosis of a thyroid disorder. A thyroid examination should be performed by the hands of an experienced physician.
Take a moment to view this video for an illustration of the thyroid examination process.
Note: The contents of this blog are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for professional care. This site should not be used in place of professional medical advice. The author is not a physician. For medical emergencies, call 911!
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