Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Thyroid and Fibromyalgia: Is there more than a butterfly connection?

Citrus Butterfly© Photograph by Celeste Cooper

It’s been said that thyroid disease is occurring at an alarming rate and that could certainly be true. According to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, and up to 60 percent of those with thyroid disease don’t even know they have it. So, there's no time like the present to raise awareness, It’s January!


I wanted to cry when I read Hypothyroid Mom’s™ article, Hypothyroidism Broke My Brain. I live with Hashimoto’s (an autoimmune disease where my body attacks my thyroid) and fibromyalgia. These two things robbed me from a lucrative and much loved career as a registered nurse. I was once the head of a training center for the American Heart Association, someone who wrote continuing education programs for the Missouri Nurses Association, someone in charge of hospital-wide education, and a board certified emergency nurse. It’s not about all that, but that I thrived in that environment—until—I didn’t. Fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, constant headache and insomnia was swallowing me whole. A neuropsychological exam scored me in the bottom 10% of cognitive function when related to my peers with equal schooling and age. Five years later, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and seven years to diagnosis of ME/CFS. It was another ten years of symptoms I was sure would kill me before the cause was finally identified,  Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I have often thought it was very possible there was more than a casual connection between FM, ME/CFS and my thyroid. I have also though it possible thyroid resistance was a precursor to this autoimmune thyroid disease that is still somewhat of mystery because I can swing suddenly and drastically between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

The problem is that thyroid problems are generally not considered a big deal, that is, unless it is happening to you. And that’s why it’s important to raise awareness.

Is it any wonder we are perplexed?

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, one minute we are climbing the walls, a nervous bundle of energy with our heart racing in our ears, pounding until we have a headache, the next minute it is completely done, leaving us with extremities that resemble cooked spaghetti. Both cause extreme fatigue, one because the body is metabolizing overtime, the other because it isn’t metabolizing well at all.

Over this last year, I went from extreme hyperthyroidism with symptoms lasting well over a month to extreme hypothyroidism, all within two weeks, and will labs to prove it. I dropped like a rock in a bottomless pit, but the endocrinologist didn’t believe it. My rheumatologist is the one who got the confirming blood work. Now, I have a standing order for thyroid labs to be drawn anytime I feel the shift, so it can be treated appropriately.

That’s Not Nearly the End of It

In an article I wrote last January (2017), Fibromyalgia and Thyroid Dysfunction,
I relate the symptoms of thyroid dysfunction and pose the question, “Is it fibro or thyroid dysfunction?” The answer is yes. It can be one or the other, or both. Thyroid dysfunction can make fibromyalgia symptoms worse when they co-exist or it can lead to a misdiagnosis of fibromyalgia. You can read the full ProHealth article, here.

Thyroid problems are generally not considered a big deal, that is, unless it is happening to you.

The Many Faces of Thyroid

There are many diseases of the thyroid, but those with the closest relationship to fibromyalgia are hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and thyroid resistance. I hope you will take a minute to read my latest article for ProHealth, Thyroid Resistance and Fibromyalgia, it could offer an “ah, ha” moment.

If you suspect thyroid problems after reading the articles at ProHealth, keep at your doctor; don’t give up, so you don’t lose your mind!

Additional Reading:

 In healing,,Celeste

Celeste Cooper / Author, Freelancer, Advocate

Think adversity?-See opportunity!

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All blogs and comments are based on the author's opinions and are not meant to replace medical advice.  


Chrissy Bell said...

Yes, all of these things. I was diagnosed with a thyroid condition and started taking Synthroid at 12. I got my diagnosis of Fibromyalgia at 26 and learned my thyroid condition was Hashimotos. Was it so hard to explain why my thyroid did what it did all those years ago? I also am sure due to childhood experiences that I have always had Fibromyalgia. It's all connected. It makes so much sense in hindsight, but so frustrating.

Celeste Cooper said...

Thank you for sharing your story Chrissy. There are MANY of us who know the thyroid and fibromyalgia, in particular, Hashimoto's. They certainly feed off of each other as you know only too well. In healing, Celeste

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