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. 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 medication for, but overall thankful that I finally had answers and that it wasn’t an MS exacerbation. It amazed me to learn all of the things that this tiny 2 inch butterfly shaped gland does to help regulate your body. According to www.endocrineweb.com, 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, but are not limited to the following:
- Heart rate
- Central and peripheral nervous systems
- Body weight
- Muscle strength
- Menstrual cycles
- Body temperature
- Cholesterol levels
Thyroid issues can mimic MS symptoms
Once finding out my diagnosis, I learned that thyroid issues are very similar to and can often mimic MS symptoms. And, it had me curious…is there a connection between thyroid issues and MS? I found through research, that hypothyroidism and MS do seem to have some kind of connection. ThyroidNation.com says it has been found that thyroid disorders, which were accounted for mainly by the presence of hypothyroidism, were at least three times more common in women with MS. It is found that patients like us, who have MS, lack the enzymes that digest dietary proteins. These proteins contain essential amino acids that we need, such as phenylalanine. According to Thyroid Nation, research has confirmed that patients with MS lack phenylalanine and the amino acid tyrosine. Tyrosine is what is needed to produce both of the thyroid hormones, and the lack of this may explain the association between MS and hypothyroidism. Some studies also show that autoimmune disorders tend to cluster together, which could help explain why thyroid disease seems to be present in patients like myself, with MS.
Importance of getting your thyroid checked
I wrote this article to kind of help others who are not aware of thyroid issues and problems. I had not known previous to my thyroid diagnosis how common it was to have these problems together. I also was unaware of how the thyroid functioned and how much it can affect our bodies and how we feel. I too, was curious to see who else, like me, suffers with them on top of MS. Now that I have mine 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. Having MS and thyroid problems can be confusing and hard to identify because the symptoms can seem very similar to the side effects of Multiple Sclerosis or even medication. I hope by this article I can make others aware of how important it is to get things like your thyroid checked, because knowing exactly what you’re up against can make all the difference in the world in how you feel, even with MS! Although, finding I had thyroid issues was not something I planned on, it is something I’m extremely grateful I was checked for, because getting it regulated has made me feel like a new woman, MS and all!