Informing & Supporting Thyroid Patients Since 1985

Thyroid Disorders & Treatments Thyroid Related Disorders

Disorders of Other Endocrine Glands

Your thyroid is one of many endocrine glands, and autoimmune inflammations like those occurring in Hashimoto's thyroiditis may occur in these other glands too. When the inflammation leads to scarring and tissue damage, the glands may fail to produce enough hormones for your needs. The symptoms that result depend on the function of those hormones.

Your adrenal glands make cortisone and other steroid hormones, which are released into your blood stream daily and are especially important in your response to stressful situations. Adrenal failure (also called Addison's disease) is an uncommon condition, occurring in only one individual per 100,000 of the population. In most patients with Addison's disease, glandular damage is due to an immune attack on the tissues of the adrenal glands. If your adrenal glands fail, you will experience fatigue, loss of energy, weakness, and darkening of your skin, especially over your joints and inside your mouth. This condition is treated by replacing the hormones that the adrenals no longer make in sufficient amounts (cortisone and related steroid hormones).

Some women suffer from oophoritis, a painless autoimmune inflammation of their ovaries. In this condition, antibodies to ovarian tissue may be found in the bloodstream, and inflammation and scarring have been demonstrated in the ovarian tissues of affected individuals. Though rare, oophoritis is a condition your physician will consider if you experience early menopause.

Autoimmune damage to your parathyroid glands may lead to calcium deficiency (hypocalcemia). Symptoms of this condition include mood changes, numbness and tingling around your mouth and in your fingers and toes, muscle cramps, and, very rarely, convulsive seizures. Though associated with autoimmune disorders, it is actually a very rare cause of low calcium levels among thyroid patients. The more common cause of hypocalcemia is accidental damage to the parathyroid glands after thyroid surgery. If you develop hypoparathyroidism, your physician will likely prescribe calcium and Vitamin D tablets to eliminate your symptoms by adjusting your doses of these nutrients to bring your calcium into the normal range.

Even the pituitary, the master gland of the endocrine system, may suffer immune damage. This rare disorder (termed hypophysitis because "hypophysis" is another name for the pituitary) occurs most often in women during or just after pregnancy. In the thirty patients described in one report, slightly more than half experienced headaches, 32% lost part of their vision (the pituitary is located very near the optic nerves), and most experienced fatigue and weakness as other glands like the adrenals and the thyroid which depend on the pituitary for stimulation begin to fail. Treatment involves replacing the hormones that are lost when pituitary function declines.

Did You Know?
This is the third most common thyroid problem in the US.
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