Lupus: Support and Survival

Determining Whether It is Lupus or Hypothyroidism

The blood test for thyroid stimulating hormone level (TSH) is the most sensitive way to diagnose hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism, or under activity of the thyroid gland, may cause a variety of symptoms. The body’s normal rate of functioning slows, causing mental and physical sluggishness.

Since Lupus and Hypothyroidism share similar symptoms, it is important to determine which disease is causing the symptoms, so treatment may begin.

Hypothyroidism with an elevated TSH may also be associated with various rheumatologist problems including symptoms of Fibromyalgia. Also there is an incidence of carpal tunnel syndrome associated with hypothyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism may be associated with excessive turnover of bone with the development of osteoporosis. Also patients with Hyperthyroidism may develop weakness in the muscles closest to the body (myopathy).

Thyroid disorders are wide-reaching, affecting essentially every organ, every tissue, and every cell in the body. Left untreated, a thyroid disorder can compromise overall health. Fortunately, highly sensitive blood tests are readily available, including the sensitive TSH test, which has proven to be the most valuable single method of detecting a thyroid disorder.

What Is a TSH Test?

TSH is your pituitary gland's signal to your thyroid gland to make less or more thyroid hormone. When the level of TSH is high, it usually means that there isn't enough thyroid hormone in your blood. A low TSH level means your blood has too much thyroid hormone. A TSH test is a simple blood test that your doctor can perform to find out how your thyroid is functioning

Who Should Be Given a TSH Test?

People who should consider having a TSH test done are those who have a greater likelihood of having a thyroid disorder, including:

  • women, especially those over 40
  • women who have recently given birth (within 6 months after delivery)
  • people with high cholesterol
  • people experiencing depression
  • people who have had thyroid disease before
  • people with a family history of autoimmune thyroid disease
  • people who have been treated for hyperthyroidism
  • people who have had x-ray therapy of head or neck for cancers or Hodgkin's disease
  • people who have taken or who are taking lithium or amiodarone
  • people with non-thyroid autoimmune disease, for example:
    • Addison's disease
      Type I diabetes
      Pernicious anemia
      Rheumatoid arthritis
      Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus)

What Can a TSH Test Determine?

A high TSH level usually indicates that the thyroid gland is failing to produce enough thyroid hormone. If TSH results come back showing higher than normal levels, you may have hypothyroidism or mild thyroid failure.

A low TSH level usually indicates that the thyroid gland is producing too much thyroid hormone. If TSH results come back showing lower than normal levels, you may have hyperthyroidism.

Why Is the TSH Test Preferred?

While measuring thyroid hormone levels may sometimes give a good idea of how the thyroid is functioning, it cannot detect milder abnormalities. TSH testing can detect mild thyroid failure and sub clinical hyperthyroidism, both of which often progress to more severe cases of thyroid dysfunction.

Information for this article gathered from:

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Thank you Sarah for the angel.

Searching for  ways to deal with the depression, the frustrations, the questions about lupus, I joined a support group online.  LUPIES has been a wonderful gift.  I have learned more from the information I found on the support web site and from other sufferers of Lupus than I did from my first doctor. The Lupies and I have become great friends and offer each other support and love.
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This site is intended for educational purposes only, to provide an overview of Lupus for patients, their families, and health care providers. It is not intended to recommend any specific treatment, nor should it be used as a guide for self-treatment.
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