Hypothyroidism - FAQs
What causes hypothyroidism?
How is the diagnosis made?
Is there any truth to the hypothyroidism diet? Can certain foods increase thyroid function?
Avoid taking your thyroid hormone at the same time as:
- soybean flour
- cottonseed meal
- iron supplements or multivitamins containing iron
- calcium supplements
- antacids that contain aluminium or magnesium
- some ulcer medications, such as sucralfate (Carafate)
- some cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as those containing cholestyramine (Questran) and colestipol (Colestid)
To avoid potential interactions, eat the above foods or use those products several hours before or after you take your thyroid medication.
Can hypothyroidism cause joint pain?
- muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness, especially in the shoulders and hips
- joint pain and stiffness
- swelling of small joints in the hands and feet
- carpal tunnel syndrome
Can hypothyroidism cause peripheral neuropathy and, if so, how is it treated?
I am losing hair since many years. Can it be due to hypothyroidism?
I have been gaining weight for a long time now. I have tried many different diets that helped me to reduce weight, but after a while, I gained that weight back. Is it possible that I have hypothyroidism?
Myths and facts
- Only older women develop thyroid problems.
While a woman by the age of 60 has a one in five chance of developing a thyroid problem, they are not the only people who develop thyroid conditions. Women are vulnerable to thyroid conditions at any age and, in particular, during the postpartum period, but also as hormones begin to change around the late thirties. Men may also develop thyroid conditions and the symptoms do not differ much from women's experiences: weight changes, fatigue, anxiety, depression, loss of sex drive, hair loss, etc., are some of the symptoms that men with thyroid go through.
- Thyroid disease is easy to diagnose and treat.
Many people have a difficult time getting diagnosed with the thyroid disease and, even when diagnosed, they discover that the radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid drugs for hyperthyroidism have not resolved their symptoms. More often, the ‘easy pill a day’ treatment for hypothyroidism leaves them miserable, sick and provides no relief from the symptoms. Many innovative practitioners and millions of patients know that thyroid disease is a complex, multi-faceted condition that requires a variety of approaches to diagnose and resolve.
- Hypothyroidism will only cause a weight gain of few kilos.
While it is hard to always identify exactly how much weight gain is the direct result of hypothyroidism, reduced metabolism, reduced energy for exercise and other metabolic changes can result in a weight gain of more than 10 to 20 kilos for some people, depending on their metabolism.
- If you have a thyroid problem, you will develop goitre (enlarged thyroid).
A majority of thyroid patients will not develop goitre.
- A lump or nodule in the thyroid means you have thyroid cancer.
Actually, only 5% thyroid nodules are cancerous. Various diagnostic procedures can evaluate whether your nodule or lump is one of the rare, cancerous lumps.
- You will not have hypothyroidism symptoms unless your TSH is significantly elevated.
While some less enlightened practitioners believe that there are no symptoms unless the TSH is significantly elevated, many patients report significant symptoms at high-normal TSH levels, or at elevated levels in the 6.0 to 10.0 range. Researchers have also found that not treating even mild or subclinical hypothyroidism in the range under a TSH of 10.0 puts you at a risk of several conditions, including heart disease and high cholesterol.