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How Does Hypothyroidism Affect The Brain

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Fatigue Common With Brain Fog Among Adults With Hypothyroidism

Brain Fog & Toxins – How They Affect Hashimoto’s & Your Thyroid

Ettleson M. Seeing through the fog: Characterizing brain fog in those treated for hypothyroidism. Presented at: American Association of Clinical Endocrinology Annual Scientific and Clinical Conference May 26-29, 2021 .

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Lack of energy, forgetfulness and feeling sleepy are the most common symptoms adults with hypothyroidism face with brain fog, a phrase patients use to describe a type of cognitive dysfunction, according to a speaker.

Matthew Ettleson

There are many patients with hypothyroidism that experience brain fog,Matthew Ettleson, MD, a clinical fellow at the University of Chicago, told Healio. Fatigue appears to be the most prominent symptom that patients associate with brain fog. Lifestyle changes focusing on rest and relaxation seem to be the major strategies to alleviate brain fog symptoms.

Of the 5,282 people responding to the survey, 905 reported brain fog symptoms shortly after the diagnosis of hypothyroidism. There were 432 respondents with brain fog who underwent thyroid surgery or radioactive iodine therapy. Difficulty focusing , mental confusion and difficulty making decisions were the three symptoms most strongly correlated with patient satisfaction score.

He said future research should examine symptoms and the mechanisms behind them in greater detail.

Key Points About Hypothyroidism

  • Hypothyroidism means your thyroid gland is underactive. It isnt making enough thyroid hormone. The most common cause is when your immune system starts to attack itself. It makes antibodies against the thyroid gland.
  • Symptoms include dull facial expressions, tiredness, and weight gain.
  • Blood tests can help diagnose this condition. They can measure the amount of thyroid hormone and thyroid-stimulating hormones in your blood.
  • The goal of treatment is to return your levels of thyroid hormone back to normal.
  • Untreated hypothyroidism may lead to anemia, low body temperature, and heart failure.
  • Treatment may include medicine that replaces lost thyroid hormones. You usually will need to take thyroid hormones for the rest of your life.

Hypothyroidism And Health Risks

Several studies have linked hypothyroidism to an increased prevalence of certain conditions. Note, however, that just because hypothyroidism is associated with a disease, it doesnt necessarily mean that everyone with hypothyroidism will actually develop the disease! Many different genetic and environmental factors can influence the risk.

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Hashimotos Is A Double Whammy For The Brain

Unfortunately, Hashimotos activates microglia cells in two ways. First, thyroid hormones are integral to brain health, and Hashimotos can lead to low thyroid hormone status. Thyroid hormones dampen overactivity of the microglial cells, thus preventing or slowing down this cascade that causes inflammation and degeneration in the brain.

Second, the inflammatory response caused by Hashimotos increases the activity of the brains microglia cells, hence promoting brain inflammation.

So failing to address the autoimmune attacks of Hashimotos is a double whammy on the brain the inflammation caused by Hashimotos increases microglial activity, while low thyroid hormone status fails to adequately dampen the microglial cells.

The Inflammation That Occurs With Hashimotos Can Cause The Following Brain Problems:

Everything You Need to Know About Every Thyroid Disorder ...
  • Leaky blood-brain-barrieryes, you can have a leaky gut and a leaky brain, they often occur together. A leaky blood-brain-barrier also increases the risk of developing brain autoimmunity.
  • Inflammation in the brain triggers the immune cells of your brain to become overactive and increase nerve cell damage.
  • Accelerated brain degeneration and increased risk of dementia, Alzheimers and Parkinsons disease.

If you have Hashimotos disease, getting your thyroid hormone levels optimized is not enough. You have an autoimmune disease and this disease can affect other parts of your body beyond the thyroid gland. You must get your immune system working better, which means a better regulated immune system. You need to support and protect other systems like your digestive system and your nervous system. The more we learn about Hashimotos and other autoimmune diseases, the more we see the need to protect the rest of the body. With what was once considered only a thyroid disease we now see as an immune system disease and neurological disease.

Not to make less of the thyroid damage, but it just might turn out that the thyroid is the least of our concerns with Hashimotos.

Thyroid hormones can be balanced and maintained with medication if needed. What we dont have is a medication to replace a damaged brain. Hashimotos also increases your risk of developing other autoimmune diseases many of which are significantly more devastating.

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Effect Of Thyroid Function Variations Within The Normal Range On Mood And Cognition

In euthyroid subjects without thyroid diseasefatigue, poor quality of life, mood alterations, and poor memory are common complaints, often prompting subjects to obtain standard or alternative thyroid hormone preparations despite normal thyroid function. This raises the question of whether variations in thyroid function within the reference range are associated with these symptoms.

In the two large Netherlands surveys summarized above, there was no correlation between fatigue or quality of life and variations in thyroid function within the reference range . Mood alterations or cognitive deficits have been linked to variations in TSH or fT4 levels within the normal range . However, the correlations were in different directions depending on the report, and recent large and well conducted studies found no correlations between TSH levels and depression, anxiety, or cognition . Most recently, the HANDLS study found complex interactions between variations in normal thyroid function and depression or cognitive measures depending on gender, race, and cognitive domain . It is difficult to draw conclusions from the complex data set, but the magnitude of the differences was generally small. Finally, there is one treatment study, where symptomatic euthyroid subjects with no history of thyroid disease were given L-T4 in a blinded, placebo-controlled fashion, with no improvement in psychological symptoms .

How Are Hypothyroidism And Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Diagnosed

To diagnose hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, doctors ask about a person’s symptoms, do an exam, and order blood tests. The tests measure:

  • Thyroid hormone levels, particularly thyroxine and thyroid-stimulating hormone . TSH is a hormone made in the . More TSH is released into the blood when the brain and pituitary sense that the levels of thyroid hormone in the blood are too low. TSH stimulates the thyroid to work harder to make more thyroid hormone.
  • Some antibodies . High levels of these antibodies in the blood are a sign that the gland is being attack by the immune system in Hashimoto’s. The two antibodies commonly measured are thyroglobulin antibodies and thyroid peroxidase antibodies .

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How Is Brain Fog Related To Hashimotos

In my work with people with Hashimotos, as well as in my personal experience, I have learned that brain fog is a common symptom for most people. One of the main reasons is because, when it comes to Hashimotos , there is a lot of inflammation present in the body .

Insufficient thyroid hormone itself can also lead to brain fog and problems with cognitive function, as brain tissue can be extremely sensitive to small changes in the amount of thyroid hormone in the body.

A third factor linking brain fog to Hashimotos is blood sugar imbalances, which are common in those with thyroid conditions. When we consume large amounts of sugar often in the form of high carbohydrate foods such as desserts, grains, and starchy vegetables the pancreas has to release larger amounts of the hormone insulin to bring the levels of sugar in the blood back down to a normal level. These surges in insulin can cause blood sugar to drop too low, and lead to lowered levels of glucose in the brain. This reduces cognitive function by essentially starving the brain of its source of energy.

Additionally, chronically high levels of insulin cause systemic and brain inflammation, leading to brain tissue damage and poor mental function.

What Happens If Hypothyroidism Is Not Treated

Thyroid affects brain serotonin and liver

Hypothyroidism can become a serious and life-threatening medical condition if you do not get treatment from a healthcare provider. If you are not treated, your symptoms can become more severe and can include:

  • Developing mental health problems.
  • Not being able to maintain a normal body temperature.
  • Having heart problems.
  • Developing a goiter .

You can also develop a serious medical condition called myxedema coma. This can happen when hypothyroidism isnt treated.

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The Bottom Line On Hyperparathyroidism And Hypothyroidism

HPT and hypothyroidism affect different glands, but the conditions are sometimes related to one another. Regardless of whether people experience symptoms of HPT, hypothyroidism, or both, it is crucial to seek medical diagnosis and treatment. That way, people dealing with parathyroid or thyroid gland issues can safely treat them.

Dr. Babak Larian of the CENTER for Advanced Parathyroid Surgery in Beverly Hills is a leading parathyroid gland surgery expert. He understands the challenges associated in diagnosing HPT and hypothyroidism. To address these challenges, Dr. Larian performs comprehensive testing to determine if his patients are dealing with HPT, hypothyroidism, or both.

In the event that a patient has one or more malfunctioning parathyroid glands, Dr. Larian may recommend an MIP. At this point, Dr. Larian explains how an MIP is performed and what a patient should expect throughout treatment.

Dr. Larian carefully performs an MIP, and the procedure takes about 20 minutes to complete. After treatment, Dr. Larian performs a 4 gland assessment to ensure his patients treatment was successful.

What Happens In Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an ongoing condition in which the immune system attacks the thyroid. Often, this prevents the thyroid from making enough thyroid hormone, causing hypothyroidism. The body responds by sending a message to the thyroid to work harder to make enough hormone.

This, and the swelling the immune system causes as it attacks the gland, can make the thyroid get bigger, leading to a goiter. The thyroid can keep changing size over months or years. Surgery is sometimes done to treat goiters, especially if the thyroid is big enough to cause problems with swallowing. But this is rarely needed in children.

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Can Hypothyroidism Be Prevented

Hypothyroidism cannot be prevented. The best way to prevent developing a serious form of the condition or having the symptoms impact your life in a serious way is to watch for signs of hypothyroidism. If you experience any of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, the best thing to do is talk to your healthcare provider. Hypothyroidism is very manageable if you catch it early and begin treatment.

What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism

Factors that affect your thyroid

A person with mild hypothyroidism may feel just fine. In fact, it might cause no symptoms at all.

But if thyroid hormone levels get too low, symptoms can become more obvious. These include:

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Will Hypothyroidism Make Me Gain Weight

If your hypothyroidism is not treated, you could gain weight. Once you are treating the condition, the weight should start to lower. However, you will still need to watch your calories and exercise to lose weight. Talk to your healthcare provider about weight loss and ways to develop a diet that works for you.

Can You Have Hyperparathyroidism And Hypothyroidism

At least one study indicates that people can experience HPT and hypothyroidism at the same time.

In the study, researchers evaluated 54 patients who underwent parathyroid gland surgery between January 1990 and December 1995. They found that patients coping with HPT often experienced thyroid disease.

There is no telling if hypothyroidism, HPT, or both are present without in-depth testing. However, people who pursue medical diagnosis and treatment at the first sign of any symptoms of hypothyroidism or HPT are well-equipped to address their symptoms before they get out of hand.

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Simple Guide For A Healthy Sleep

Doctor-approved tips to help you relieve insomnia and get a good night’s rest, starting tonight.


Reduce sugar

Sugar contributes to inflammation in the body and prevents healing. Sugar can also cause issues with your mood and energy levels. Consider swapping sugar for a natural sweetener such as stevia.â

Hashimotos Is Not Just A Thyroid Disease

Thyroid Gland, Hormones and Thyroid Problems, Animation

Hashimotos occurs because your immune system is diseased your thyroid is an innocent target of the diseased immune system. The root cause is a poorly regulated immune system and the thyroid is the organ that is being attacked and destroyed.

As a functional medicine doctor, I understand and appreciate the how different body systems can influence each other. With Hashimotos, there are several systems that can be affected. These systems include the immune system , the hormone/endocrine system and the nervous system . Traditional medicine only recognizes the thyroid, so the only solution provided is thyroid hormone medication. The immune system is completely ignored. If the brain is considered at all, the damage that is occurring will not be recognized or addressed but psychiatric drugs may be offered.

Functional medicine doctors know that Hashimotos not only affects the thyroid but is also affects the brain. Many people mistake their brain inflammation and brain damage with hypothyroidism or an imbalance of their thyroid hormones.

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How Does A Thyroid Problem Affect Your Brain

Brain fog and thyroid problems often go hand in hand because thyroid function has a strong connection with metabolism. When your metabolism fluctuates, you may feel slow, lethargic, and lacking in energy. When your energy level drops below a certain point, your brain is one of the first organs to feel the adverse effects.

Are There Any Foods I Can Eat To Help My Hypothyroidism

Most foods in western diets contain iodine, so you do not have to worry about your diet. Iodine is a mineral that helps your thyroid produce hormones. One idea is that if you have low levels of thyroid hormone, eating foods rich in iodine could help increase your hormone levels. The most reliable way to increase your hormone levels is with a prescription medication from your healthcare provider. Do not try any new diets without talking to your provider first. Its important to always have a conversation before starting a new diet, especially if you have a medical condition like hypothyroidism.

Foods that are high in iodine include:

  • Eggs.
  • Edible seaweed.
  • Iodized salt.

Work with your healthcare provider or a nutritionist to craft a meal plan. Your food is your fuel. Making sure you are eating foods that will help your body, along with taking your medications as instructed by your healthcare provider, can keep you healthy over time. People with thyroid condition should not consume large amounts of iodine because the effect may be paradoxical .

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Thyroid Hormone Transport To The Brain

The Brain Barriers

The passage of substances from blood to brain is restricted by the blood-brain barrier and the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier . The BBB is formed by the endothelial cells of brain capillaries which are apposed by tight junctions, so that substances must leave the circulation and enter the brain parenchyma through transcellular transport. Surrounding the brain capillaries are the astrocytic end-feet. It has been proposed that the astrocyte membranes do not cover completely the capillary surface, leaving patches of capillary wall in contact with the insterstitial fluid . Other studies show that the astrocytes cover completely the capillaries, leaving only narrow spaces for free diffusion . In any case T4 and T3 transported through the BBB could reach the astrocytes through their end-feet or be delivered directly to the interstitial fluid through the spaces between the astrocytes, as it happens for glucose .

Tips To Improve Your Memory

Thyroid Hormones(12 13

Hypothyroidism thats treated properly shouldnt cause persistent brain fog or memory concerns. But anyone can experience issues with memory or concentration from time to time. These strategies can help:

Take your medication. The best thing you can do for your memory is to get your thyroid hormone back to a healthy level, and that means taking your medication regularly and correctly and going back to your doctor for follow-up appointments to be sure youre taking the right dosage, Zonszein says. The American Thyroid Association says its best to take your thyroid hormone on an empty stomach at the same time every day, and to not stop taking it without first talking to your doctor.

Get out of the house, and get moving. Staying active has an important effect on the brain, so keep up with your hobbies and social activities, along with exercise. Physical activity is associated with a better working brain, according to the National Institute on Aging , which says that exercise has been found to stimulate your brains ability to maintain old network connections and make new ones. A study published in July 2019 in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society found that immediately following moderate exercise, participants showed a significant increase in memory.

Get a good nights sleep. The deep sleep you get from a good night’s slumber helps keep your brain functioning well, Zonszein says. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, try these tips:

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Iodine Deficiency Disorders Endemic Cretinism

Daily adult needs of iodine are of the order of 150, and 250 µg during pregnancy and lactation . Iodine deficiency causes a wide spectrum of abnormalities collectively known as iodine deficiency disorders , with high incidence of abortions and stillbirths, increased perinatal and infant mortalities, neonatal goiter and hypothyroidism, and various degrees of psychomotor and mental defects, and cretinism.

Iodine deficiency has been, and still continues to be, endemic in many regions of the planet . The consequence of severe iodine deficiency during development is the syndrome known as cretinism, of which two forms, Neurological and Mixedematous, were described by McCarrison in the Himalayas and in Papua-New Guinea. In Neurological cretinism the thyroid gland is normal, and there are no signs of hypothyroidism. However, there is severe mental retardation, deaf mutism and a striato-pallidal disorder with spastic diplegia affecting the lower limbs . On the other hand, myxedematous cretins are hypothyroid, with short stature, poor sexual development, and craniofacial abnormalities. They are also mentally retarded but not as severely as neurological cretins, and signs of neurological involvement are observed only in a minority of cases. In affected regions, usually a combination of the two forms is more frequently observed.

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