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Can Underactive Thyroid Cause Breathing Problems

How Thyroid Dysfunction Can Cause Breathing Problems

Causes of Underactive Thyroid

The thyroid is most known for its influence over the metabolism and subsequently energy level, weight regulation and mental focus. However, many are not aware that thyroid dysfunction and suboptimal hormone levels can affect other aspects of health.

Because every tissue in the body has thyroid receptors, thyroid hormones can impact a wide array of bodily functions. A lesser known symptom of hypothyroidism is labored breathing and poor respiration. People may also know this as air hunger or dyspnea.

Understanding how the thyroid influences respiratory ability and what breathing difficulties are associated with thyroid dysfunction may improve diagnosis and treatment of existing or future breathing issues.

Can A Thyroid Condition Cause Weakness In The Body

Thyroid Conditions Can Cause Muscle Weakness. A common issue with thyroid disease is that many symptoms are considered part of the aging process. These symptoms include brain fog or memory loss, unexplained weight gain, and muscle weakness. However, stiffness in the joints, muscle weakness or body pain can be a symptom of thyroid disease.

Muscle twitching, cramping, and pain can be signs of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. They can also indicate your electrolytesmainly calcium and sodiumare out of balance. If you feel sudden and intense muscle pain when you havent done any strenuous physical activity, it might be because your thyroid function has changed. 6.

Shortness Of Breath: What To Do First

Get your heart checked. Start with the most serious possible cause, then work backwards.

There are many medical conditions that can cause a feeling of not getting enough oxygen, or of tiring quickly from low-level activities that previously never got you breathing faster.

Other common conditions that cause a feeling of shortness of breath or issues with breathing include sinus conditions, acute anxiety, gastroesophageal reflux disease and LPR.

Another point to consider is that low thyroid can cause shortness of breath without causing other classic symptoms of this autoimmune disease .

The blood test for hypothyroidism is a very easy way to screen for this treatable disease.

Dr. Besser provides comprehensive family care, treating common and acute primary conditions like diabetes and hypertension. Her ongoing approach allows her the opportunity to provide accurate and critical diagnoses of more complex conditions and disorders.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. Shes also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.

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Respiratory Conditions Associated With Hypothyroidism

In addition to the typical symptoms of hypothyroidism such as weight gain, depression and fatigue , there is a collection of breathing issues that can be caused by poor thyroid function or reduced hormone levels.

The following conditions have been associated with hypothyroidism:

  • Diaphragm dysfunction
  • Inhibited respiration due to low central nervous system drive
  • Airway obstruction
  • Pleural effusion
  • Sleep apnea

Although there are multiple reasons why these conditions develop, optimizing thyroid levels may provide relief. In a small study composed of hypothyroid patients, it was found that 25 percent of them had sleep apnea. Generally, sleep apnea was exhibited in the older and more obese individuals. The correlation of reduced thyroid function and the occurrence of sleep apnea is something to consider if suffering from breathing difficulties that disrupt sleep. However, it is important to keep in mind that even though hypothyroidism may often cause sleep apnea, not all patients with sleep apnea have thyroid issues. Regardless, if a person is experiencing difficulty breathing it may be beneficial to assess their thyroid function.

Hashimotos Diagnosis And Treatment

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Testing the level of TSH is often the first step when screening for any type of thyroid disorder. Your doctor might order a blood test to check for increased levels of TSH as well as low levels of thyroid hormone if youre experiencing some of the above symptoms. Hashimotos thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder, so the blood test would also show abnormal antibodies that might be attacking the thyroid.

Theres no known cure for Hashimotos thyroiditis. Hormone-replacing medication is often used to raise thyroid hormone levels or lower TSH levels. It can also help relieve the symptoms of the disease. Surgery might be necessary to remove part or all of the thyroid gland in rare advanced cases of Hashimotos. The disease is usually detected at an early stage and remains stable for years because it progresses slowly.

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Thyroid Nodule Symptom # : A Cough That Just Won’t Go Away Frequent Coughing And A Need To Keep Clearing Your Throat

  • What to do about it?
  • Thyroid nodules that cause the patient to cough should always be evaluated with an ultrasound scan. Occasionally a CAT scan is required because it is better at looking at big thyroid goiters than ultrasound is . Sometimes it just can’t be known for sure if the thyroid nodule is actually causing the coughing. Often these patients undergo a laryngoscopy . If the thyroid nodule is causing the coughing, or there is a high liklihood it is the cause, then surgery is indicated. Of course, it is now very important for you to chose your surgeon wisely. The nerves to the vocal cords are occasionally damaged by a surgeon removing a thyroid and this will cause severe horseness and a loss of voice for months or even forever. We have an entire page dedicated to helping you chose a surgeon wisely!

Can Your Thyroid Cause Sleep Problems

Thyroid imbalances have been linked to sleep problems. Hyperthyroidism can cause difficulty sleeping due to arousals from nervousness or irritability, as well as muscle weakness and constant feelings of tiredness. An overactive thyroid may also lead to night sweats and frequent urges to urinate, both of which can disrupt sleep.

People with hypothyroidism , on the other hand, often experience trouble tolerating cold at night and joint or muscle pain that disrupts sleep. Some studies have linked an underactive thyroid to poor quality sleep, longer sleep onset or the time it takes to fall asleep and shorter sleep duration during the night. Younger people, individuals with a relatively low body mass index, and women are all considered at higher risk of developing sleep problems due to hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism can also cause hypersomnia, or the irrepressible need to sleep or lapses into sleep that occur on a daily basis. Hypersomnia can occur due to an underlying medical disorder, and hypothyroidism is considered the leading cause of hypersomnia due to a disorder in the endocrine system. Additionally, untreated hypothyroidism can be mistaken for sleep-related hypoventilation, or excessively slow or shallow breathing that occurs primarily during sleep.

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Graves Disease: Radioactive Iodine Uptake And Scan

A radioactive iodine uptake test and scan will measure the amount of iodine your thyroid absorbs and also determine if all or only part of the thyroid is overactive. This test is usually performed in a hospital or medical centers nuclear imaging department.

RAIU involves taking an iodine pill called a radioactive tracer four to six hours before your first thyroid gland scan. Its a specific test because the thyroid absorbs iodine much better than other parts of the body, especially if your thyroid is overactive.

Another scan is repeated 24 hours later. The test is not painful and requires you to lie on a padded table with your head tipped backward to fully expose your neck and thyroid area.

The amount of radioactive tracer your thyroid absorbs determines if your thyroid function is normal or abnormal. A high uptake of iodine tracer may mean you have hyperthyroidism or Graves disease.

Headaches And Thyroid Function

Symptoms of Underactive Thyroid

A recent study published in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain found that thyroid and Migraines had a strong connection with 21% of people who suffered a pre-existing headache condition were more likely to develop hypothyroidism. For migraine sufferers, that number jumps to 41%.

This isnt surprising considering past research has shown that people who suffered from migraines in early childhood often developed hypothyroidism as an adult. Research has also shown that once hypothyroidism has developed, migraines and headaches become more frequent and severe.

Furthermore, other studies have found that as hypothyroidism increases in severity, it may result in even more frequent headaches.

If youre one of the millions of people suffering from migraines, your immediate question may be: Can the thyroid cause headaches? While this research shows a strong link between the two conditions, there is no definitive answer as to why they are linked or if one condition causes the other.

One of the most notable questions on the topic is: Are people who suffer from migraines are more likely to have thyroid problems, or is it that those people who have thyroid issues are more susceptible to migraines?

It is the hope of medical professionals, researchers, and migraine sufferers alike that present and future studies will answer that question, and help develop additional protocols and treatments for those affected.

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Too Much Adrenaline And Fight/flight

For some people, the thyroid is overactive, which means the metabolism is too high. One conceivable reason for this is excessive stress as well as high levels of adrenaline for an extended period of time.

Masses of studies show how increased levels of adrenaline, over time, negatively affect the hypothalamus and the pituitary. Since the pituitary gland controls the thyroid, a domino effect is created, as the stress has a negative effect on the thyroid which once again gets faulty information from the brain.

From a breathing perspective, this is interesting. In one study, the participants hyperventilated for 20 minutes, which meant that the carbon dioxide pressure was halved. This led to the adrenaline levels increasing by a massive 360%.

When they repeated the same exercise, but instead had the participants hyperventilate air which contained 5% carbon dioxide, approximately 100 times more than ordinary air, the carbon dioxide pressure remained unchanged. The interesting bit was that the adrenaline levels ALSO remained unchanged. The conclusion is that when carbon dioxide pressure drops, adrenaline levels go the opposite direction. This indicates that a low carbon dioxide pressure activates our stress system.

How The Thyroid Gland Works

Just as your car engine can’t run without gasoline, your thyroid needs fuel to produce thyroid hormone. This fuel is iodine. Iodine is found in such foods as iodized table salt, seafood, bread, and milk. When you eat these foods, the iodine passes into your bloodstream. Your thyroid then extracts this necessary ingredient from your blood and uses it to make two kinds of thyroid hormone: thyroxine, called T4 because it contains four iodine atoms, and triiodothyronine, or T3, which contains three iodine atoms. The thyroid’s output consists primarily of T4. Most of the T3 the body needs is created outside the thyroid in organs and tissues that use T3, such as the liver, kidneys, and brain. These tissues convert T4 from the thyroid into T3 by removing an iodine atom.

As the thyroid produces thyroid hormone, it stores it in a vast number of microscopic follicles. When the body needs thyroid hormone, the thyroid secretes it into your bloodstream in quantities needed for the metabolic needs of your cells. The hormone easily slips into cells and attaches to special receptors.

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How Are The Causes Of An Underactive Thyroid Diagnosed

See your GP or doctor for a proper diagnosis if you have any of the symptoms of an underactive thyroid. They will do the following:

  • Ask you questions about:
    • your symptoms, such as tiredness, weight gain, constipation, cold sensitivity and changes to your hair, skin or nails
    • any family history of thyroid problems
    • any operations, x-rays or illnesses you have had
    • medicines you may be taking.
  • Do a physical check, including:
    • weighing you
  • Take blood tests to assess:
    • thyroid hormone levels, which include T3, T4 and TSH
    • thyroid antibodies in your blood
    • cholesterol levels, because underactive thyroid can cause your bodys LDL cholesterol level to increase .

Thyroid Nodules Diagnosis And Treatment

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Most nodules are detected during a normal physical exam. They can also be detected during an ultrasound, CT scan, or an MRI. Once a nodule is detected, other procedures a TSH test and a thyroid scan can check for hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. A fine needle aspiration biopsy is used to take a sample of cells from the nodule and determine whether the nodule is cancerous.

Benign thyroid nodules arent life-threatening and usually dont need treatment. Typically, nothing is done to remove the nodule if it doesnt change over time. Your doctor may do another biopsy and recommend radioactive iodine to shrink the nodules if it grows.

Cancerous nodules are pretty rare according to the National Cancer Institute , thyroid cancer affects less than 4 percent of the population. The treatment your doctor recommends will vary depending on the type of tumor. Removing the thyroid through surgery is usually the treatment of choice. Radiation therapy is sometimes used with or without surgery. Chemotherapy is often required if the cancer spreads to other parts of the body.

Children can also get thyroid conditions, including:

  • hypothyroidism
  • thyroid nodules
  • thyroid cancer

Sometimes children are born with a thyroid problem. In other cases, surgery, disease, or treatment for another condition causes it.

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Signs And Symptoms Of An Overactive Thyroid

The symptoms of hyperthyroidism tend to come on slowly and also vary from person to person. It’s not always obvious that symptoms such as excess thirst or increased appetite are an indication that something is wrong. Often, people don’t see a doctor until they experience palpitations or shortness of breath.

  • Enlarged thyroid gland
  • Emotional changes
  • Nervousness
  • Generalized itching

More common in older people

  • Depression

What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Congenital Hypothyroidism

Early signs of congenital hypothyroidism in a baby include:

  • jaundice
  • sleeping longer or more often than usual
  • a large soft spot on the head
  • large, swollen tongue
  • cool, pale skin
  • large belly with the navel sticking out

Without treatment, children with congenital hypothyroidism can develop permanent mental disabilities. They also may have a poor appetite and breathing problems.

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Thyroid Hormone: How It Affects Your Heart

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The thyoid gland, which wraps around the windpipe, releases hormones that have wideranging effects on the body.

Too little or too much of this crucial hormone can contribute to heart problems.

Located at the base your throat, the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland releases hormones that affect every organ in your bodyespecially your heart. Thyroid hormone influences the force and speed of your heartbeat, your blood pressure, and your cholesterol level. As a result, a malfunctioning thyroid gland can cause problems that masquerade as heart disease or make existing heart disease worse.

An estimated 6% of people in the United States have thyroid disease. Most of themabout 80% have an underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism. When thyroid levels drop, all the systems in the body slow down, triggering a range of symptoms that include fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, constipation, and dry skin. But these symptoms are very common in people as they grow older, including those with normal thyroid levels.

What Is The Cause Of Hashimotos Thyroiditis

Foods for Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid)

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder. Normally, your autoimmune system protects your body by attacking bacteria and viruses. But with this disease, your immune system attacks your thyroid gland by mistake. Your thyroid then can’t make enough thyroid hormone, so your body can’t work as well.

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Sexual And Reproductive Concerns

Women with untreated hypothyroidism can have menstrual periods that happen less often, or last longer than normal. Bleeding may be heavier than usual, too.

Both men and women could become less fertile or lose some of their sex drive.

Dobs says women who have trouble getting pregnant should always have a thyroid test.

If youâre pregnant and have hypothyroidism thatâs not treated, your baby could be born too early or have a slightly lower IQ than normal. Even when you already take thyroid medicine, be sure to tell you doctor if youâre pregnant. You may need a higher dose of thyroid hormone. You might need to get tested more often, too.

How Does My Thyroid Work

The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped organ located in the front of your neck just under the voice box . Picture the middle of the butterflys body centered on your neck, with the wings hugging around your windpipe . The main job of the thyroid is to control your metabolism. Metabolism is the process that your body uses to transform food to energy your body uses to function. The thyroid creates the hormones T4 and T3 to control your metabolism. These hormones work throughout the body to tell the bodys cells how much energy to use. They control your body temperature and heart rate.

When your thyroid works correctly, its constantly making hormones, releasing them and then making new hormones to replace whats been used. This keeps your metabolism functioning and all of your bodys systems in check. The amount of thyroid hormones in the bloodstream is controlled by the pituitary gland, which is located in the center of the skull below the brain. When the pituitary gland senses either a lack of thyroid hormone or too much, it adjusts its own hormone and sends it to the thyroid to balance out the amounts.

If the amount of thyroid hormones is too high or too low , the entire body is impacted.

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Hyperthyroidism Diagnosis And Treatment

A blood test measures levels of thyroid hormone and thyroid-stimulating hormone in your blood. The pituitary gland releases TSH to stimulate the thyroid to produce its hormones. High thyroxine and low TSH levels indicate that your thyroid gland is overactive.

Your doctor might also give you radioactive iodine by mouth or as an injection, and then measure how much of it your thyroid gland takes up. Your thyroid takes in iodine to produce its hormones. Taking in a lot of radioactive iodine is a sign that your thyroid is overactive. The low level of radioactivity resolves quickly and isnt dangerous for most people.

Treatments for hyperthyroidism destroy the thyroid gland or block it from producing its hormones.

  • Antithyroid drugs such as methimazole prevent the thyroid from producing its hormones.
  • A large dose of radioactive iodine damages the thyroid gland. You take it as a pill by mouth. As your thyroid gland takes in iodine, it also pulls in the radioactive iodine, which damages the gland.
  • Surgery can be performed to remove your thyroid gland.

If you have radioactive iodine treatment or surgery that destroys your thyroid gland, you will develop hypothyroidism and need to take thyroid hormone daily.


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