If you have autoimmune thyroid disease including the hyperthyroidism of Graves’ disease or hypothyroidism due to chronic thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s disease) you have inherited a tendency to other medical conditions as well. Some of these are autoimmune disorders caused by antibodies against your body’s tissues. These include Type I (juvenile) diabetes requiring insulin for control, rheumatoid arthritis, pernicious anemia, and bowel inflammations of the upper intestine (regional enderitis) or the lower intestine (ulcerative colitis).
Since these autoimmune disorders occur with increased frequency in you and your close your relatives compared to the general population, it is likely that one or more of your family members may develop one of these conditions and require treatment.
There are other medical conditions or traits that happen in thyroid families as well. Although there is no evidence that these conditions are due autoimmune processes, you and your family are more likely to have one or more of these conditions as well. These include an increased likelihood of developing a heart arrhythmia known as atrial fibrillation and migraine headaches.
Now that physicians are performing bone density tests with increasing frequency, especially in post-menopausal women, we are beginning to learn just how common the weakened bones of osteoporosis are in the general population. This is a special situation for some thyroid patients as well, for the hyperthyroidism due to Graves’ disease or a toxic nodular thyroid can accelerate bone loss on its own as excessive levels of thyroid hormone accelerate calcium depletion from the skeleton. If hyperthyroidism continues for years or if a patient is made hyperthyroid by excessive doses of thyroid hormone treatment, the loss of bone will exceed bone formation accelerating the tendency toward osteoporosis.
Similarly, a patient with thyroid cancer often must take excessive amounts of thyroid hormone so as to surpress pituitary production of thyroid stimulating hormone in an effort supress the growth of any remaining cancerous tissue left despite treatment by surgery and radioactive iodine.
Because TFA believes that it is important for thyroid patients to keep up to date about these other conditions, we are introducing you to some of them here and invite you to revisit our new and improved TFA Web site where more detailed information about these medications may be found. As with all our programs we invite you to comment on this new program and give us your experiences using these medications. Collaboration in this manner is in the spirit of the Thyroid Foundation of American family.
Finding the right Specialist