Recently my husband has become very ill. He was scared as he was just not feeling right, and he also knew that his father had died suddenly in his late 40’s and being in his early 50’s he was very concerned.
On the Thursday before 4th of July he decided to take a vacation day and go to the doctor. He did this just on a whim, as he knew something was not right, but he was not prepared for the roller coaster ride we were all about to get on.
He made the initial appointment to have the doctor look at his stomach, he had been taking about 20 tums a day for a few months, and even though it concerned me I also knew that he, is well, he is a man and a bit of a wimp honestly about pain and discomfort in general. I go into the room with him and they do the regular questions and answers, she touched poked, probed, ordered some blood work, and then wanted to do an EKG, this is not unusual if you are presenting with these symptoms. His heart rate was 120 at the visit so she was a little concerned.
The tech came and ran the EKG and me being nosey, and trust me I am very nosy around me and my family’s medical stuff, I looked at the screen and out popped a red warning that something was wrong. UGH! I was scared to death. The doctor came in told him he had some thickening in his left ventricle and sent us to a stomach doctor a cardiologist, to have an ultrasound and to an eye doctor. We were confused and scared.
We went to the cardiologist, who set him up for tests, and we had the blood work done, we set up appointments for the eye doctor, and for the ultrasound. Friday night we were going on our weekly date and we got a call from the doctor that she thought my husband needed to have another blood test something came up wrong and they needed to recheck it. Now we are really scared as you can imagine. He had his blood drawn again, two days later she called and told us that he needed a follow-up appointment with her. When we went to see her, she told us that he had Graves Disease, which is an autoimmune disorder that causes hyperthyroidism. He now needed to see an endocrinologist and go to radiation medicine to have a radioactive uptake thyroid scan to look for cancer or nodules.
We went to the endocrinologist and found that all of his symptoms that he was having was his thyroid. He had fast heart rate, fatigue, aches and pains, anxiety, inability to sleep, sweating profusely, unable to deal with heat, his eyesight was changing quickly, itchy dry skin, he was very short fused, he said he felt like he was running all the time getting things done but, never got anything done.
I don’t know about you, but I never thought those symptoms were related to your thyroid.
The doctor put him on an anti-thyroid medication and she also prescribed a beta blocker because his heart rate sleeping was 120, I knew this because I took it all the time, it was scary. I would love to tell you that he feels great now, but honestly he doesn’t. He is tired still, but now from the medication, his heart rate is slower about 80 now and that means it wont be causing anymore damage to his heart, his appetite is now more normal, and he is not so short fused. Honestly its going to take a long time to make this better. We still have to have the cancer check and the eye doctor check, but what I really want you all to know is that your thyroid can be off and you not know it, and fatigue is a symptom that almost always goes along with it.
1. Did you know that fatigue is one of the most common symptom with thyroid issues of both HIGH and LOW thyroid? It is amazing that fatigue is still there even after you’ve gotten a full nights sleep. In other cases, fatigue in hyperthyroidism may result from insomnia, anxiety, or disrupted sleep patterns. Typically, appropriate treatment will resolve this fatigue. Low thyroid causes fatigue and most people know this and usually its one of the things that sends them to the doctor.
My husband was always tired, we thought it may be due to a new baby, changes at work, stressors of all kinds going on in our life. He was thin and fit, we never thought anything could be wrong systemically.
2. Even when thyroid function tests show that the thyroid is “normal” and hormone levels fall within the reference range, the presence of elevated thyroid antibodies indicative of autoimmune Hashimoto’s disease or Graves’ disease can cause fatigue as a symptom in some patients. These diseases are no joke and if you are always feeling “off” you need to get this checked out. Alert your doctor you want the tests done.
3. It has been shown that in some people, even those who do not have celiac disease or gluten intolerance have reported a reduction in fatigue when they switch to a gluten-free diet. Some have also reported improvement in fatigue symptoms if they eliminate other inflammatory foods from their diet like sugar. Now, most people eat too much sugar we all know that, but you see my husband, this man eats sugar like you would not believe. He puts sugar on frosted flakes, ugh! It is amazing how much sugar he can eat. He eats candy every day, not most days, EVERY DAY, the chances of him giving up sugar is NILL, it’s just not gonna happen.
4. Some people experience fatigue because the get unrefreshing sleep. This means you’ve had enough sleep usually seven or more hours, but it just doesn’t matter you wake up and still feel tired, because the sleep was of poor quality, interrupted, or did not reach restorative levels. Unrefreshing sleep may be associated with adrenal dysfunction, as well as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. Which can also be related to thyroid disorders.
5.Some thyroid patients experiencing fatigue may be low in iron, in particular, the stored form of iron known as ferritin. It’s worth having ferritin levels checked by your physician, and if they are not optimal, talk to your doctor about supplementing with iron, or adding more iron to your diet through foods.
An excess of iron, in particular a hereditary condition known as hemachromatosis, can also be associated with fatigue.
6.If you have long-term, debilitating fatigue, and the fatigue is accompanied by other symptoms such as enlarged lymph nodes, a chronic sore throat, and/or body/muscle aches pains, you may have other conditions, known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and/or fibromyalgia. these conditions are more common in thyroid patients than in the general population.
7.Some thyroid patients on thyroid hormone replacement have reported an improvement in their fatigue levels when switching from a T4 only treatment (i.e., levothyroxine), to a T4/T3 treatment–for example, the addition of synthetic T3–or use of a natural desiccated thyroid drug.
8.Thyroid patients are at greater risk of sleep apnea, where breathing stops for short periods during sleep. Sleep apnea can contribute greatly to fatigue. Thyroid patients experiencing fatigue should talk to a physician about having a sleep study or evaluation done to determine if sleep abnormalities — including apnea — may be contributing to the fatigue.
In addition to making sure you get optimal thyroid treatment for your condition, and address any sleep disorders, food sensitivities, and imbalances in iron levels, there are many other ways to ensure that you get sufficient sleep.
But first, how much sleep do you need? According to the National Sleep Foundation most adults need a minimum of seven to eight hours per night, and a substantial percentage of us are not getting this amount of sleep on a regular basis.
Here are some tips to get to sleep, and get better sleep:
- Try to keep the same sleep schedule weekdays and weekends
- Keep your bedroom cool
- Don’t watch television or work in your bedroom
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the afternoon, and before bedtime
- Don’t take naps.
- Don’t exercise after dinner time
- Take a hot shower or bath before bedtime
- Use a sound conditioner or earplugs to block noise
- Avoid large meals before bedtime
- Increase light exposure during the day
- Minimize light in your bedroom — Use blinds or blackout curtains, turn off television and computer at night, avoid illuminated clocks, and don’t read from backlit devices at night
- Listen to relaxation or guided imagery tapes to help fall asleep
- Don’t drink too much liquid in the evening
- Limit changes in your work shifts
- Drink an herbal or relaxation tea at bedtime
- Have a bedtime snack with protein