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headaches and cognitive impairment
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headaches and cognitive impairment

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism about a year ago but i'm still having so many symptoms. I am on levothyroxine and my TSH is 3.
It was due to constant headaches (every day) that i ended up having lots of tests and found hypothyroidism. However my headaches have not subsided at all, brain scans are normal and i also have problems with my long term and working memory. I know these things may not be directly related to thyroid function but i never had any of these problem until my thyroid started malfunctioning. I am still very fatigued. What could be wrong?  I'm only 17 as well, cognitive impairment was the last thing i expected.
I realize that you are not thyroid experts but maybe you could make sense of the constant headache, memory loss and cognitive impairment. CT scan of the brain was normal and my thyroid hormone levels are all normal now.
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Avatar_dr_f_tn
Thanks for using the forum. I am happy to address your questions, and my answer will be based on the information you provided here. Please make sure you recognize that this forum is for educational purposes only, and it does not substitute for a formal office visit with your doctor.

Hypothyroidism is sometimes associated with cognitive changes, these usually include difficulty with attention, recent memory and abstract thinking, other mental changes can include apathy, fatigue, poor concentration; which can also be the reflection of an underlying depression that is not uncommon with low thyroid hormone levels. these symptoms typically improve with treatment of hypothyroidism and normalization of thyroid levels, but in some cases the cognitive recovery is not complete. it's important that you get a full evaluation including cognitive assessment to check for other treatable causes of cognitive impairment, like metablic changes and nutritional deficincies, some of these can be part of the systemic effects of hypothyroidism. also to look for underlying depression (known to be associated with hypothyroidism as well) that can cause or augment your symptoms

Headache is also one of the common general neurological symptoms associated with low thyroid function, but given the fact that it's persistant -despite being treated with good response of thyroid function- there is also a possibility your headache is a primary headache disorder like migraine or tension-type headache that needs specific therapy with medications and therapies known to be effective in this group of headache disorders. a normal head CT makes it less likely that this is caused by an underlying brain pathology.

I suggest you see a neurologist who can do a thorough evaluation for both the cognitive impairment and your headache and start appropriate management.

Thanks for using the forum and good luck.
7 Comments
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Avatar_f_tn
I am hypothyroid and have been for years.  I always have the headaches (presssure feeling), brain fog etc.  Once in a while I dont.  Make sure your taking your meds.    Your memory problem is from your thyroid.  Make sure your dr is regulating your dosage and monitoring your levels.  This should help those fatigued feelings.  Your young and it is frusterating but jsut know that  you are not alone.  If other symptoms come about make sure you write them down and give to your dr.  Keep a diary....I know I have so many sticky pads with notes all over them because my memory is real bad.  I am nearly 40 kiddo, so dont panic.  Keep positive.
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Avatar_f_tn
thanks for replying. Hopefully one day i will regain my full brain power.
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Avatar_n_tn
I am a 24 year old male. I've been suffering constant headaches over the past year almost. these last couple of months they have been almost everyday. It sometimes feels like I'm losing control of myself and can't focus. and sometimes it feels like I am having tremors or something in my head. It;s been really bothering me lately. I have an appointment for a catscan soon. I have been afflicted with anxiety and stress lately, probably due to the environment I live in. I'm out of the country now and should be returning back home to the states soon. Also I have to keep, like pressing my eyes when these headaches come, to sort of sooth it. and I wear sunglasses because my eyes have become more sensative to the sun. does anyone or any specialist have any idea what can be going on with me. please reply.
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Avatar_f_tn
Thank you for replying. It was a very informative response. I have a couple more questions in regard to what you said, would be good if you could answer them.

1. When you said that sometimes cognitive recovery is not complete does that mean that it is permanent damage that will never be regained?

2. Is is possible to see how well the parts of the brain responsible for memory function (such as the hypocampi) are working on a brain scan?

Thanks again
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263988_tn?1281957896
What is your current TSH level? If it is 3 that may explain your brain functioning problems. Ideally your TSH should be between 0.5 and 1.0. Most people do well around 1.0. Some need their TSH lower and near 0.5. An even lesser amount of people need the TSH lower than 0.5. It's about how you feel and the numbers not just the numbers.

Also some people do better on brand names rather then the generic thyroid replacement.
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Avatar_f_tn
my TSH is now 0.5
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