517730 Last update: 2023-08-11
Hypothyroidism is too often Ignored (5 of 9)

To conclude the previously discussed issues concerning the negative impact of hypothyroidism on vascular health, blood pressure, and cardiovascular risks factors (cholesterol, triglycerides, homocysteine, glucose, insulin), we should not be surprised by the anti-atherogenic effect of corrective thyroid treatment, as highlighted by many publications. For more details, I refer you to the heading “Conferences – Functional Medicine – Thyroid” on my website www.gmouton.com (free download).

Continuing with the cardiovascular system, there is another symptom largely unknown, but indeed published (and where I have had to deal with a flagrant case). This is the lengthening of the QT interval seen during an electrocardiogram, an anomaly that disappears with the correction of the thyroid status. Here again is a cardiovascular factor that may worry your cardiologist, as not all of them are aware of the possible connection with the thyroid gland. Yet more bitter fruit from the division of medicine into specialties too independent from one another.

We now turn to the effects of hypothyroidism on the nervous system. I want to first highlight the importance of drowsiness: patients often say that they fall asleep anywhere, as soon as they cease their activities. Sleep can be extended (until 10:30 or even 12 noon). Sleep is deep, with a very difficult morning awakening, requiring much time...and several coffees. It is not at all unusual to encounter simultaneously one of these symptoms and its direct opposite (as has already been discussed with weight gain and weight loss). In all scenarios, sleep is reported as non-restorative and the patient wakes up as tired as they were when they went to bed, without any improved motivation or vitality.

A typical manifestation of mild cases of hypothyroidism is to overload the agenda, preferring multiple activities, often messy and inefficient as a result. This compensatory hyperactivity energises patients because it stimulates thyroid function (just as sports activity of moderate intensity does, and often sought by such patients for this reason). However, once the engine stops, it results in total collapse and we know patients whose overflowing activity during the day is crushed once they are home. They can scarcely drag themselves from the sofa to their bed and have no energy whatsoever to prepare a decent evening meal. As far as their Sundays are concerned, I'm sure I don't need to spell it out, hence the notion of the Sunday Syndrome.

Let’s continue in the neurological domain with hearing disorders: tinnitus, loss of hearing, vertigo, Ménière's disease…We find an almost complete range of pathologies of the inner ear; even if the ENT doesn't necessarily make the connection!

Patients can be affected by a wide range of muscle disorders: cramps (at night, but not necessarily, also during exercising) contractures, or true myopathy (muscle inflammation with marked increase of specific enzymes, CPK, detected during a blood test). The tendency for muscle contractions can sometimes cause acute blockages: torticollis, back pains, lumbagos that are in fact paralysing for patients, condemning them to stay on their sofas… The scale of these muscle contractions should always be an alert to look for an underactive thyroid, correction of which will constitute the only way to achieving lasting relief.

So, what about the infamous fibromyalgia, a label stuck a little too easily on the back of hyperalgesic patients? What if, once again, it is another low blow from the thyroid? 

By changing nothing, we hang to what we understand, even if it is the bars of our own jail.
- John le Carré, The Russia House 1989

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