Thyroid Issues and MS: How Common Are They?
A few years ago, I was in and out of the doctor with constant symptoms of severe fatigue, low immune system, insomnia, hot flashes, tremors, pain and more. These all sound like MS symptoms, right? That’s what I thought at least, but the fact that this time I couldn’t kick any of the issues scared me.
My funky endocrine system
After blood work and tests, it was determined that I unfortunately have a funky endocrine system. I was diagnosed with both hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) AND hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). I was extremely frustrated to find out I had one more thing to have to take medicine for. But overall, I was thankful I finally had answers and that it wasn’t an MS exacerbation. It amazed me to learn all of the things that the thyroid – a tiny, 2-inch, butterfly-shaped gland – does to help regulate your body.
What does the thyroid gland do?
The thyroid gland releases hormones that control metabolism, or the way our bodies use energy. The thyroid’s hormones regulate vital body functions. These functions include:1
- Heart rate
- Brain development
- Mental activity
- Body temperature
- Skin and bone maintenance
These issues can mimic MS symptoms
Once I had my diagnosis, I learned that thyroid issues are very similar to and can often mimic MS symptoms. This had me curious…is there a connection between thyroid issues and MS?
I found several studies that show that thyroid issues and MS do seem to have some kind of connection. One 2018 study looked at the similarities between MS and Hashimoto's disease. Hashimoto's disease is the most common cause of underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). Researchers found that both MS and Hashimoto's can impact the body's inflammation process in similar ways.2
The study also shows that autoimmune disorders tend to cluster together, which could help explain why thyroid disease seems to be present in people with MS.2
Importance of getting your thyroid checked
I wrote this article to help others who are not aware of thyroid issues. Before my thyroid diagnosis, I didn't know how common it was to have thyroid issues along with MS. I also was unaware of how the thyroid worked and how much it can affect our bodies and how we feel. I was also curious to see who else suffers from thyroid problems on top of MS.
Now that I have my thyroid under control with medication, I feel overall amazing. However, I do have to get my thyroid checked regularly. When it is too high or too low, my body feels it instantly.
Grateful to have found an answer
Having MS and thyroid problems can be confusing and hard to identify because the symptoms can seem very similar to the side effects of MS or many medicines.
I hope this article makes others aware of how important it is to have your thyroid checked. Knowing exactly what you’re up against can make all the difference in the world in how you feel, even with MS!
Learning I had thyroid issues was not something I planned on. But I'm extremely grateful I was checked for thyroid issues, because getting my thyroid regulated has made me feel like a new woman, MS and all!
Were you misdiagnosed with something else before receiving a MS diagnosis?