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Does Thyroid Disease Cause Memory Loss

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What Causes Brain Degeneration

Thyroid Brain Fog and Memory Loss With Hashimoto’s, Graves’ and Hypothyroidism

The brain is comprised of cells called neurons, which communicate with each other to manage all the bodys processes. When these cells die, its called neurodegeneration. Once neurons die, theres no getting them back. However, the brain can compensate by forming new branches between existing neurons to aid in communication. Thats called neuroplasticity.

As we age, natural degeneration of neurons is normal. We can maintain good brain function by slowing neuron death and through good neuroplasticity, that is, making sure were always growing connections between neurons and protecting existing connections. In fact, how well your brain ages can be looked at as the balance between neurodegeneration and neuroplasticity.

However, Hashimotos and the problems it causes low thyroid function, inflammation, and poor circulation can speed neurodegeneration.

If An Underactive Thyroid Is Not Treated

It’s unlikely that you’d have many of the later symptoms of an underactive thyroid, because the condition is often identified before more serious symptoms appear.

Later symptoms of an underactive thyroid include:

  • a low-pitched and hoarse voice
  • a puffy-looking face
  • thinned or partly missing eyebrows
  • a slow heart rate

Thyroid Disease: A Checklist Of Skin Hair And Nail Changes

Although your thyroid gland sits deep in your neck, your dermatologist may be the first doctor to notice signs of thyroid disease. Thats because many signs and symptoms of thyroid disease develop on the skin, hair, and nails.

The thyroid gland

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that produces hormones, which play a key role in regulating your heartbeat, breathing, and many other functions.

You, too, may also be able to spot thyroid disease, and thats important. Caught early, treatment can prevent complications. When thyroid disease goes untreated for years, it can lead to a dangerously slow heartbeat, an injury that refuses to heal, or unrelenting pain. You may have gained or lost weight for no apparent reason.

To help you find early signs of thyroid disease on your skin, hair, and nails, heres a checklist.

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Thyroid Hormones And Memory

Even though we dont usually consider thyroid as a factor in brain functions the studies have shown this butterfly-shaped gland plays a role in cognitive abilities and memory. Rivas et al. found that thyroid hormones are vital for proper brain development and function. Therefore, modifications in normal levels of T3 and T4 or impaired activity of the gland itself contribute to a wide range of central nervous system alterations.

Experimental models suggest that cognitive and behavioral deficits linked to developmental hypothyroidism rely mainly on hippocampal changes that can persist throughout a persons life.

Whats more, Rivas and his colleague also showed that maternal hypothyroidism and even mild hypothyroxinemia during pregnancy is potentially harmful to a childs neurodevelopment. Hypothyroxinemia refers to the presence of free thyroxine value below the 2.5th percentile with a TSH level in a normal range during pregnancy.

While hypothyroidism is strongly linked with weak memory and decreased cognitive abilities, the underlying mechanisms are still not fully elucidated. Many studies on this subject are ongoing while some completed research delivered an important insight into the role of hypothyroidism in weak memory.

Considerations Of Study Design

10 Signs and Symptoms that You Have an Underactive Thyroid ...

This study focuses on the potential involvement of brain structure and function in hyperthyroidism and euthyroidism. To assess eye involvement, MR imaging of the orbits and TAO evaluation are performed in parallel and at an additional appointment between the neuroimaging assessments. Moderately severe and severe TAO impair QoL considerably and intravenous or oral glucocorticoid treatment in TAO management may affect brain structure volume and cognitive performance, as in Cushings disease. Patients on glucocorticoid treatment at baseline are therefore excluded. The orbital MRI and TAO assessments will make it possible to isolate TAO as a factor if it occurs during follow-up. More importantly, the orbital measurements may provide a biomarker for prediction of both TAO and failed cognitive recovery.

Psychiatric diseases are excluded only if there is an ongoing or recent psychosis that might interfere with full compliance and/or informed consent to participate. However, previous and current psychiatric diseases are carefully explored as psychiatric diseases are more prevalent than in a normal population, even before the onset of GD, and a common cause cannot be excluded. In addition, psychiatric symptoms often worsen during the phase of hyperthyroidism. Finally, it is important to assess the relevance of pre-existing psychiatric morbidity for cognitive prognosis.

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Thyroid Problems And Metallic Taste In Mouth

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Its Not Necessarily Alzheimers

More than 50 conditions can cause or mimic the symptoms of dementia, and a small percentage of dementias are reversible. Two common examples are dementia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency or an underactive thyroid . Getting the right diagnosis is important so that you know what options you have, because symptoms subside when the underlying problem is treated.

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Mouth Sores: Common Causes Remedies And More

Medically reviewed by William Ross Perlman, PhD, CMPP on January 10, 2020. Written by Caitlin Boyd. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

Mouth sores can appear as small lesions or cracks around the lips. In some cases, the sores can also develop inside the mouth. Mouth sores also commonly occur along the gums, lips, and lining of the cheeks.

Mouth sores arenât always a purely cosmetic problem: in some cases, sores in your mouth could be a symptom of a serious health concern.So keep reading to find out the common causes of mouth sores, related health conditions, remedies, and more.

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Thyroid Hormones Affect Brain Function

Thyroid Memory Loss and Forgetfulness – Keep your mind sharp!

Thyroid hormones are essential for normal brain development and adult brain function. Substantial iodine deficiency during critical periods of brain development results in hypothyroidism, leading to severe and irreversible cognitive, neurological and IQ impairments. Acquired adult overt hypothyroidism also entails mental signs and symptoms with reduced information processing speed, reduced efficiency of executive functions and learning difficulties. Furthermore, hypothyroidism is associated with an increased risk of depression and lower health-related quality of life . These symptoms generally improve with levothyroxine replacement treatment.

Conversely, in hyperthyroidism, the psychiatric symptoms are often striking with unrest, stress intolerance, fatigue, memory impairment and compromised well-being. Patients may also experience anxiety and depression, and cognitive impairment.

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The Effects Of Hypothyroidism And Hyperthyroidism On Memory

Feeling like you’re forgetting things more often, or your brain is in a fog? There are many causes of memory loss, and while some are related to Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, others are due to potentially reversible causes, one of which is a thyroid disorder.

Verywell / Hugo Lin

Is It Alzheimer’s Or Another Kind Of Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia and causes significant memory loss, in addition to multiple other symptoms. If you think your memory loss could be caused by Alzheimer’s, review the symptoms and make an appointment with your physician for an assessment. Although Alzheimer’s typically affects those over the age of 65, early-onset Alzheimer’s can occur in those as young as 40.

Memory loss can also be caused by other kinds of dementia, such as vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and several others. Problems with memory should be discussed with your doctor so that any reversible cause can be found and treated, or so that treatment for Alzheimer’s or dementia can begin as soon as possible if this is the cause.

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Pattern Points To Risk Of Cognive Decline With Low Tsh

Following analysis of the DNPR data, a strong association was reported with dementia. Individuals with hyperthyroidism were 13% more likely to develop dementia compared with the reference group = 1.13, 95% confidence interval = 1.07-1.19). The hazard ratios for cohorts with Graves’ disease and goiter was similar at 1.13 and 1.18, respectively.

In breaking out the numbers for dementia into Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, the data revealed a greater risk in both dementias. Compared to the reference group, patients with hyperthyroidism had a 21% greater probability of Alzheimers disease. Vascular dementia, too, was elevated with a 28% increased probability .

Results were similar for people with a goiter, in which the investigators reported a 41% increased probability of Alzheimers disease occurring, and a 43% greater risk of vascular dementia . While not analyzed statistically, goiter-based hyperthyroidism appeared to have an increased probability of developing dementia than those with Graves disease in this Danish population.

Factors That Affect Memory And Hashimotos Hypothyroidism

Do Thyroid Disorders Cause Forgetfulness and Brain Fog?

Its important to note the reduced consumption of carbohydrates in the study – some researchers have called Alzheimers type 3 diabetes due to the deleterious effects of excess sugar and carbohydrates on the brain.

Exercise is also a fairly potent magic bullet when it comes to brain health and regular exercise has been shown to positively affect memory and help reverse memory loss.

Sufficient sleep is necessary to protect a healthy memory. The brain waves produced during sleep help us store memories. These brain waves transfer memories from the hippocampus, an area of short term memory, to the prefrontal cortex, where long term memories are stored. Lack of sleep and poor quality sleep disrupts this process and leads to memory loss.

Gluten and other foods to which you may have an immune reaction can cause memory loss by inflaming the brain. Although most people associate a gluten intolerance with digestive symptoms, the truth is gluten most often affects neurological tissue. Sometimes simply going gluten free can significantly improve brain function. Gluten is especially important to avoid if you have Hashimotos.

Ask my office for more ways you can support your brain and thyroid health.

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What Are The Symptoms Of A Low Tsh Level

The most common cause of low TSH level is a hyperactive thyroid gland. Because the thyroid hormones help regulate various body functions such as metabolism, an increase in these hormones can lead to the following symptoms: A patient will experience restlessness, nervousness, muscle cramps, involuntary muscle movements, weakness, and fatigue.

Strengths And Limitations Of This Study

  • Prospective case-controlled study.

  • Extensive neuropsychological and neuropsychiatric assessment.

  • State-of-the-art manual and automatic analysis of structural magnetic resonance images of medial temporal lobe structures.

  • Use of a novel functional technique, functional near-infrared spectroscopy, to determine correlates of mental fatigue.

  • A limitation is that only women are studied.

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Infections Of The Brain Or Its Lining

Infections like HIV, tuberculosis and herpes can cause memory problems. HIV puts the function of nerve cells at risk by infecting the cells that protect and support them. The virus can also trigger inflammation that can damage the brain and cause forgetfulness. With tuberculosis, memory loss can be a complaint. However, prompt treatment can resolve these problems. Meanwhile, herpes simplex virus can cause a rare neurological disorder called herpes simplex encephalitis. This inflammation of the brain can lead to memory loss. Antiviral drugs may help if treatment is started right away.

Considerations Regarding Functional Neuroimaging

Low Thyroid Brain Fog, Short Term Memory Problems and Hair Loss Eliminated

Functional MRI and positron emission tomography studies demonstrate functional changes in neural networks in patients with hyperthyroidism compared with healthy controls. fNIRS and functional MRI probe the same physical tissue properties and give highly correlated results in cognitive tasks. Hitherto, fNIRS has had its main application in studies of the developing brain but has also been used in adults. Brain structures lying within a few centimetres from the skull can be assessed with fNIRS. This means many of the relevant frontal regions generally considered important for cognition can be assessed and many specific theories about their function in executive control, anticipation and/or memory have been proposed. However, Carlén has issued a note of caution, arguing that the often unclear definition of the prefrontal cortex warrants a renewed focus on what the prefrontal area is and does. This provides extra motivation for the fNIRS study, as the sensors with fNIRS are arranged in a helmet so that the patient can perform many activities during the testing, which is not possible with MRI. The ability to undertake advanced psychological testing during fNIRS is an advantage that is exploited in this study.

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Dementia Link To Thyroid Disease Worthy Of Attention

The two interesting aspects of this study are that the increased risk of dementia was seen in both Graves disease and toxic nodular goiter. While the former is an autoimmune disorder, the latter is not, suggesting that it is the hyperthyroidism per se and not autoimmunity that is contributing to the increased dementia risk, Dr. Ross told EndocrineWeb.

While dementia has been linked to many different other conditions,¹thyroid function rarely, if ever, makes the list, so EndocrineWeb reached out to Huntington Potter, PhD, Kurt N. and Edith von Kaulla Memorial Professor of Neurology, and director of the Alzheimer’s and Cognition Center at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, for his insights on the study findings.

There is increasing interest in the relationship between hyperthyroidism and associated low thyroid-stimulating hormone and Alzheimer’s disease. This reports a clear correlation between hyperthyroidism and risk of dementia in two large cohorts, thus reinforcing the need to understand the mechanism linking these two disorders, Dr. Potter said.

For clinicians, this study emphasizes the importance of following through with patients who demonstrate consistently low TSH levels, even if they exhibit no overt , a conclusion to which Virginia Sarapura, MD, professor of endocrinology, aat the University of Colorado School of Medicine, also agreed.

Thyroid Treatment Can Help

Fortunately, there is an effective treatment available for those with thyroid problems. The thyroid hormone levels can be adjusted through the use of oral medications, radioactive iodine, and/or surgeries.

So, can this treatment help people with thyroid disorders who are experiencing cognitive problems? Although there is some question of the effectiveness of treatment with significantly older adults, most research shows that cognitive functioning improves when thyroid disorders are treated.

In fact, the good news, according to the Rancho Bernardo study, is that people who’ve been treated with supplemental thyroid therapy show no decline in cognitive functioning.

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Revisiting Dementias Relationship To Hypothyroidism

Bushra Qureshi, MD Mashal Khan, MD Dharmendra Goyal, MD Steven Lippmann, MD

Regulated by the pituitary gland and in part by the hypothalamus, the thyroid gland releases two hormonesthyroxine and triidotyronine that exert profound effects on many physiological processes of development, growth, and metabolism. Moderate atrophy of the thyroid gland and other changes in thyroid hormone function and metabolism are common in normal aging,1-3 however, if left untreated TH deficiency can cause complications such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, myxedema coma, and cognitive deficits over time.4 The risk factors of hypothyroidism are age 50 years and older, female sex, obesity, thyroid surgery, and radiation exposure to the neck. The common and uncommon causes of hypothyroidism in elderly patients are outlined in Table 1.


Thyroid Hormone in the Aging Brain

Recognition of Hypothyroidism

Treatment of Hypothyroidism

Prescribing TH early in the course of disease can be an effective treatment for patients with a hypothyroid-induced dementia. Therefore, with prompt, appropriate replacement therapy, hypothyroidism-associated neuropsychological and affective alterations can be halted or, potentially, reversed.


  • Heuston WJ. Treatment of hypothyroidism. Am Fam Physician. 2001 64:1717-1724.
  • When To See A Doctor

    Can Autoimmune Disease Cause Memory Loss

    If your forgetfulness symptoms are significantly interfering with your day-to-day, schedule an appointment with your doctor. He or she will perform tests to determine the cause and degree of your memory impairment. After the initial evaluation, your doctor may suggest:

    • Therapy: Working with a professional is the best way to address underlying problems like depression or anxiety that may be contributing to memory problems.
    • Medication: There are currently several medications available for treating some forms of dementia.

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    What Can You Do To Treat Thyroid Brain Fog Naturally

    As well as thyroid medication, stabilization of blood sugar through a balanced diet also helps produce more ATP in the brain, says Sears. Ultimately, people with thyroid and brain fog issues should understand that it is a real metabolic event that can be treated with the appropriate hormones and dietary changes.

    Often, inflammation starts in the gut, the home of most of the bodys immune system. Improving gut health is one way to improve the efficacy of the immune system, which can have a positive effect on brain and thyroid function.

    Reducing or eliminating inflammatory foods and substances like processed meat, alcohol, caffeine, refined carbohydrates, and artificial trans fats may help improve gut function, and reduce gastrointestinal stress. Adding a probiotic to your diet can also improve gut function by encouraging the production of good bacteria.

    As well as getting proper medical care for thyroid brain fog, Klich offers the following tips for taking care of your body and mind to help improve your brain function:

    Klich also suggests these quick strategies for coping with cognitive challenges to make everyday tasks a little easier:

    Finally, if you find that your thyroid brain fog is interfering significantly with your decision-making, sleep quality, work, relationships, or quality of life, dont hesitate to make an appointment with your doctor, talk to a counselor, or seek other guidance.

    Considerations Regarding Structural Neuroimaging

    Previous attempts to visualise and understand thyroidbrain interaction combined neuroimaging with neurophysiological and neuropsychiatric investigations. Cognition is complex and, as such, involves widely distributed functional systems and several brain regions, among which the MTL and the prefrontal cortex are generally recognised as being of central importance. The hippocampus is, however, not the only MTL structure involved in learning and memory. A useful concept is the extended hippocampal system, a recent improvement of the older concept the limbic system. This system, which works as a whole and subserves both memory and emotion, includes most of the MTL and also parts of the thalamus, the cingulate gyrus and parts of the frontal cortex. Therefore, there may be reversible MTL changes in other regions than the hippocampus in GD patients.

    Manual volumetry is still considered the gold standard in MTL volumetry, but its inter-rater and intra-rater reliability is not optimal. Therefore, only one experienced rater will make all the definitive measurements in a single batch when all MR images are available. This rater will do a number of re-segmentations for assessing intra-rater validity. The advantages of the automatic methods, Freesurfer and MAPER, are that several other brain areas can be measured at the same time as the MTL structures are assessed and the high testretest reliability makes it easy to combine results from analyses performed at different times.

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