Avatar universal

Hair Loss Caused By Synthroid

Hi everyone.

Prior to the story before, I always had tons and tons of thick, healthy hair with NO hair loss.

In October 2009, I began having prolonged, non-stop menstruation and severe pelvic pain. Numerous tests later, docs had no idea what was wrong with me.

In January of 2010, my GP put me birth control pills for 3 months, but it didn't help me at all. In fact, it caused heavy hair loss which stopped when I stopped taking the pill, and also made my moods unstable (I'm usually calm/laid back otherwise).

After a month of no meds, in April of 2010 she put me on .25 levothyroxine as she thought I may be hypothyroid, because I was sluggish, depressed, and gaining weight (and still continued menstrual bleeding non-stop). . My TSH levels prior to any meds was 3.68.

A month later (May 2010), since my menstrual cycle was still abnormal, and my TSH had only come down to 2.99, my GP decided to increase my dosage to .50. At this point, my energy level was up, but so was my anxiety, and I was constantly flushed in the face and overheated/sweating all the time. But she said my body would adjust.

By the 3rd month on levothyroxine (June 2010) 3, my GP deided to increase my dosage to .75 to bring my TSH fown to the 1's. However, my menstrual cycles were still wacky. She also switched me to Synthroid.

Within 2 weeks, my hair began falling out in CLUMPS. I was clogging the shower drain 2-3 times per shower, and hair was literally falling off my head as I walked around. My head was raining hair. I freaked out, went to see her and he admitted I had already list a lot of hair. She said thyroid meds increase metabolism so maybe that's why I had hair loss, but to "stick it out" and my body would adjust.

Within 3 months, I had and continued to lose SO much hair, I was crying and hysterical every time I showered. I saw her again, and she said it was up to me to stay on the neds or not. They weren't helping my menstruation anyway, and I was sweating and losing hair. My TSH was at 1.04.

I weaned myself off the Synthroid by October 2010. I was no longer on ANY meds.

Fast forward to today, March 31, 2012...1.5 years post Ynthrod, and I still continue to lose hair daily. It has never stopped since back when I had no air loss but was put on thyroid meds.

I have seen many specialists, all at a loss as to what is going on.

I have regularly had my TSH (and occassionally my T3/T4 checked and all came back normal (TSH fluctuating between 2-3.5, depending on the time of nonth or day). I've been tested for autoimmune disorders and all came back negative.

But my hair has never stopped falling out since tht awful day I took thyroid meds. I have even lost nearly all the hair on my arms and half my legs. My bathroom floor is constantly covered with hair, and I barely have to shave my legs. What hair does grow back is fine and sparse. I now have very thin hair and I have to use Toppik yo cover the very sparse parts.

Three weeks ago, I went to yet another specialist and he ran a bunch of tests (my last thyroid tests were only a month before). His reults were vastly different than all the other times, and here are the results (and the lab ranges):

TSH - 5.93 (0.4-4.5 mIU/L)
TSH with Hama - 6.17 (no range given)
T4, Free - 1.0 (0.8-1.8 ng/dL)
T3, Free - 3.0 (2.3-4.2 pg/mL)
T3, Reverse - 30 (11-32 ng/dL)
Thyroglobulin Antibodies - <20 ( Follicular: > or = 2.7 ng/mL; Luteal: 3.0-31.4 pg/mL)
Testosterone, Free - 1.7 (0.2-5.0 pg/mL)
Testosterone, Bioavailable - 3.7 (0.5-8.5 ng/dL)
Sex Hormone Binding Globulin - 36 (17-124 nmol/L)
FSH - 4.0 mIU/mL (Follicular: 2.5-10.2; Mid-cycle Peak 3.1-17.7; Luteal: 1.5-9.1)
LH - 6.1 mIU/mL  (Follicular: 1.9-12.5; Mid-cycle Peak 8.7-76.3; Luteal: 16.9)
Iron, Total - 54 (40-175 mcg/dL)
Iron Binding Capacity - 404 (250-450 mcg/dL)
Ferritin - 26 (10-154 ng/mL)
Transferrin - 250 (188-341 mg/dL)
DHEA Sulfate - 127 (40-325 mcg/dL)
Cortisol, 8 a.m. - 22.1 (4.0-22.0)
Magnesium - 5.8 (4.0-6.4 mg/dL)
Parathyroid Hormone, Intact - 50 (10-65 pg/mL)

As you see, the testing was extensive (and pergormed a week pre-menstrual cycle). But based on the TSH and the Free T3/T4 levels, he said he would diagnose me with Hashimoto's, even though (he said) my DHEA Sulfate is low for my age (mid-30s), so I may also have some Adrenal Fatigue.

I was shocked that he sees Hasimoto's in this, and wants me to take Adrenal Supplements (herbal), DHEA supplements (herbal), and eventually, Armour thyroid.

I told him I'll think about it, but wanted serious input from those who understand the levels I posted above. Why hadn't my hair loss stopped? And are my labs pointing to thyroid disease/imbalance/Hashimoto's or not?

P.S. my menstrual cycle is still somewhat wacky, and turns out I had ovarian adhesions that a laparosvopy surgery discoered and forrected.

Please share your thoughts and expertise...I really am confused as to what is happening to my body! I just want my normal hair back!
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Avatar universal
Typos in the OP - sorry, touch screen device.
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Avatar universal
I don't quite see how he's diagnosing Hashi's.  TGab seems negative, and I don't see a TPOab.  

FT4 is low at 30% of range; it should be closer to 50%.  FT3 is very low at 37% of range.  Many people find that has to be > 67% before symptoms are relieved.  Hair loss is a symptom of hypo.  When you were on thyroid meds, if your doctor wasn't testing FT3 and FT4 every time you had labs, then it's quite possible that you never got your FT3 and FT4 high enough to stop the hair loss.  Hair loss can be one of the last symptoms to be relieved...the body tends to take care of its essential systems first.

How long does he plan to wait before starting you on Armour?
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Avatar universal
That's odd. I could have sworn I input TPOab on there. In any case, my results for TPOab was 35 and the range is <35.

As I said, I never - ever - had hair loss prior to being put on Synthyoid. I think my GP was basing my meds dosage/change on my TSH only.

I also don't understand why the Synthroid would cause such severe hair loss, but then the hair loss would not and has not stopped once I stopped taking the meds in October 2010? On Synthroid and right before my severe shed began on it, my scalp also became VERY red and itched like crazy. The itching has since stopped. The redness seems to come/go...also another thing I never had experienced before being put on thyroid meds.

The current doctor wants me to take "adrenal supporting herbs" called Adrenotone for 1 month before testing out Armour. He even suggested possibly starting me out on Cytomel (T3) a month after the Adrenotone, and if that doesn't work, moving to Armour.

The question is, do I have Hashi's? Am I hypothyroid? Why does my TSH fluctuate in/out of range so often?

I appreciate any input, as I don't understand the specifics or the ideal levels beyond what is stated in the lab ranges.

Can you also explain how you figured out how my T3 and T4 is lower than need to be, even though it looks within range?

I don't want to be on any meds if I have alternatives, such as a change of diet (mine is pretty healthy, though), etc. but if my levels are indeed off, please explain this to me.

Thank you.
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Avatar universal
You can see that your TPOab is at the top of the range.  However, we often see TPOab and TGab counts in the hundreds or even thousands on diagnosis of Hashi's.  Just to give you some perspective, my TPOab was 900+, and my TGab was 3,000+ on diagnosis.  TPOab can be slightlly elevated in a number of conditions, so I (not a doctor, just a fellow patient) would have a hard time hanging a diagnosis of Hashi's on a TPOab of 35 before repeating the test to see if it's trending up.

I really don't think the hair loss was caused by the Synthroid.  It was more likely coincidence.  Hair loss can be a symptom of hypo and of many other things as well.  Since you still have hair loss after d/cing almost 1.5 years ago, I doubt Synthroid is the culprit.  The itching and the redness might indicate a dermatological problem.  Have you explored that at all?

Are you hypo?  Yes, I think you are.  The ranges for FT3 and FT4 are very flawed.  One of the reasons for that is that when the original "normal" population was established, they were not properly screened and contained a lot of people who were actually hypo but had not been diagnosed.  As a result, we often find that the bottom half of the FT4 range is questionable...many people need to get FT4 to midrange before symptoms are relieved.  The same is true for the FT3 range, except that we often find people have to get into the upper half (sometimes the upper third) before feeling well.

Several years ago, the AACE recommended changing the TSH range to reflect this error.  However, no effort has been made to date to correct the FT3 and FT4 ranges.

One of the problems with using TSH as a diagnostic and a basis for treatment is that, by nature, TSH does fluctuate.  It can fluctuate as much as 70% within a day depending only on what time of day the blood was drawn.  Any nuymber of other factors also influence TSH, making it a very lame tool.

So, right now, do you have of the other "classic" symptoms of hypo...weight gain, cold intolerane, fatigue and/or drowsiness, brain fog?

If you've experience continuous hair loss since 10/10, it's a pretty good indicator that you might have been slightly hypo ever since.

Your doctor probably suggested starting you out on T3 because of your RT3 test.  What's really important when it comes to RT3 is the ratio of FT3 to RT3, not the raw numbers.  The formula to figure that ratio is FT3 / RT3 X 10 (in your case, 3.0 / 30 X 10 = 1.0).  The range on this ratio is approximately 1.0-2.0, preferably toward the upper end (2).  As you can see, you are right at the bottom of the range.  Anything below 1.0 indicates FT3 dominance.

I'll try to explain that enough so you can go off and do some research on it.

T4 is the "storage" form of the thyroid hormones.  It's produced exclusively in our thyroids.  Before T4 and be used, it has to be converted to T3 (mostly by liver and kidneys, but other sites, too).  In this conversion process, T4 is converted to T3 and RT3.  That's normal, but when the production of RT3 gets too high, it can cause problems.  RT3 is a mirror image of T3, so it can dock at T3 receptors in cells blocking T3 from getting in.  RT3 is inert, so the result is that you can be hypo at the cellular level even when blood FT4 and FT3 levels are good.  

One treatment for RT3 dominance is taking T3 meds only (no T4).  This, in effect, shuts down the conversion process and gives the RT3 time to clear.  

Diet changes don't do a lot for hypo.  Of course, if you're a junk food junkie and really clean up your act, it can help, but if you already have a pretty healthy diet, it's not going to do a lot.  The only way to improve symptoms is to replace hormones.

There a claims that a gluten free diet can control Hashi's antibodies.  It's unproven, but some people swear by it.    
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Avatar universal
Thank you! So my instincts were correct, that I don't have Hashi's. As far as other symptoms...I have weight gain I can't get rid of (about 20 lbs.), though I never had this in my life before. I feel somewhat fatigued, yes, but brain fog is not usually an issue (except between 3-6 p.m., daily). I have problems falling and staying asleep at night. I have a huge HEAT  intolerance - it can never be cold enough for me! And, of course, the severe hair loss - it just never stops falling out, by the handful! Given all that, would you think, from your experience/knowledge, that T3 would help the above? Would it be for life...or until it regulates on its own? Or would you think Armour is better, like the current doc wants to put me on? You're right, my TSH fluctuates from month to month and the current 5.93 is the highest it has ever been in 2 years.

I also seem to experience sweating when I eat sugar or carbs, in general. This symptom also crept up on me right before being put on Synthrod 2 years ago, but the med only made my sweating worse. I have been tested for diabetes, which I don't have and also tested negative for Celiac disease.

I have been going around in a circle these past 2 years and no doctor will commit to an answer, and the current one's diagnosis of Hashi's didn't sit well with me because of the lab results.

Can you recommend/suggest what my next step should be? Meds or no meds? Or something else?

Thanks so much!
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Avatar universal
I didn't mean to say that you don't have Hashi's, just that I think the elevated TPOab COULD have another cause, and I'd want to test again before making that diagnosis.  I do think it bears watching.

T3 only therapy is not a conventional therapy for hypo unless there are extenuating cirsumstances, like RT3 dominance.  T3 is fast-acting, so it's hard to maintain stable levels throughout the day unless you take it several times a day.  T4 is much more stable, so long-term therapies almost always consist of T4 or some combination of T3 and T4.

Have you always been heat intolerant, or is that something new?  As you know, cold intolerance is the usual symptom of hypo.  Since most of us warm up on thyroid meds, I'm not surprised that meds made your heat intolerance worse.

Some thyroid conditions resolve spontaneously, but they're fairly rare.  Most of hypo is caused by Hashi's.  If you did have Hashi's, you would be on meds for the rest of your life.

Next step?  It's a tough call.  You had a bad experience with levo a couple of years ago.  When people's labs indicate that they need thyroid hormone but have a hard time tolerating it, it's frequently because of either RT3 dominance or adrenal fatigue.

Ironically, if you have RT3 dominance, taking meds with T4 in them only exacerbates the situation since more and more RT3 is produced, which might be why your doctor mentioned giving you T3.  By the way, T3-only is a short-term therapy used only until the RT3 clears.  After that, T4 is added to the T3.  This is a controversial therapy, and you should do some reading on RT3 dominance before making a decision.

If he syspects adrenal fatigue, that may be why he's suggested the adrenal supplements.  Until adrenals are regulated, it can be almost impossible to regulate thyroid, and you can get some unstable results like the ones you got a couple of years ago.

Meds or no meds...in my opinion, meds would help your symptoms.  The question is T3 or Armour?  Is he planning on running labs again after you've been on the adrenal support for a month?  If so, I think it might be wise to see where your adrenal function is at that point and where your RT3 is before making the decision.  If he's not planning to run labs, I'd request them.  A one-time snapshot of levels is fine, but a series of labs showing a trend is even better.  You could get another TPOab at the same time.


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Avatar universal
Thank you very much.

To answer your questions:

1) My body has always been somewhat heat intolerant. In a room of people, I am comfortable at a temperature of 65-68F, while others are freezing. Anything above 72F is too warm for me. This has been the case since my late 20s (I'm mid-30s now). On thyroid meds, I needed a temperature of 58-60F to be comfortable, while others wore jackets. I don't know why I have heat intolerance and what may cause that (almost as if I'm hyperthyroid, except tests show I'm not).

2) The thyroid med did make me feel very energized during the day, but I was often flushed in the face and sweating all over. It also made me more anxious and irritable.

3) I have been to several dermatologists about my hair, and all so far have been clueless, but at least agree that it was tied to the Synthroid - possibly an allerguc reaction, or over-medication - as I never had hair loss until I was on those meds. An endocrinologist said he woukd never have put me on thyroid meds at all to begin with (at the time of my being put on thyroid meds, my TSH was 3.97). Unfortunately, I have since lost all the hair on my arms and most of my legs, as well. This would normally be a blessing in disguise, except the hair on my head is following suit. I lose over 200 hairs a day and my hair growth, when it happens, is extremely slow. Example: Before the hair loss began with Synthroid, I had long, thick wavy hair and I dyed my hair a few shades lighter than my natural color every 5-6 weeks. My hair was extremely healthy. After the Synthroid-induced hair loss began, and to this day, my hair is thin, dry, and though I rarely dye my hair any more (hair loss shows more on lighter hair), my roots take about 6 months to come through. Huge difference in growth rate!

4) The current doctor said he would not re-test me after the adrenal supplements, unless I insisted...which I said do. I have already requested the re-testing of TSH, Free T3/T4, Reverse T3, TPOab and TGab, DHEA, and Vitamin D. If you have suggestion on additional tests to add to this list, please let me know.

5) I am reluctant to take the herbal adrenal supplements because I have had a bad experience with herbs in the past. I was taking daily Black Cohosh for the heat intolerance and while it helped that, some, it doubled my ALT and AST (liver enzymes) to a dangerous level, so I stopped. That was 3 months ago. The Adrenotone this doctor wants me to take has a combination of what he calls "adaptogenic" herbs, which supposedly adjust to your body's needs (increase/decrease function, as needed). The ingredients include Siberian Ginseng, Riboflavin, Vitamin C, Ashwagandha, various vitamin B's, American Ginseng, and Licorice). My concern is that Ginseng is known to cause anxiety and I am already a fairly anxious person. I mentioned this to the doc and he said to get the ingredients separately and exclude ginseng (but this would be pricey!). I am not sure what to do with this suggestion for adrenal support yet. If you hve thoughts, please share!

6) He also wants me on DHEA supplements simultaneously to support my adrenals. My lab results for DHEA seem within range but he says I m too young to have a low-normal level DHEA. Do you know anything about this?

7) Since you say meds will help, would you recommend Armour, Nature-throid, Erfa, or something else? I have read numerous reports that Armour has been reformulated with poor results for many. Some seem to prefer Canadian Erfa (I'm in the U.S.), and others swear by Nature-throid or Westhroid ;I think tat's the nane). What are your thoughts/personal experience on this?

8) Any further input on the elevated heat intolernce, weight gain, and the hair loss? I know you said 2 out of the 3 sounds hypo, but how will taking thyroid meds (again) affect my heat intolerance? It was quite intolerable on the thyroid meds, unfortunately, and I worry it will return.

I so appreciate your thorough input! This has been the most help I have received anywhere, including from the many specialists I have seen! I wish I could follow up with you in the next month or so once I start whatever treatment. Is there any way to contact you directly? If not, I understnd and appreciate your help so far.

Thank you!
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Avatar universal
1) A quick google search revealed any number of causes of heat intolerance.  A number of people reported heat intolerance with hypo!

2) Once again, this could indicate an adrenal problem.  If adrenals are off, thyroid meds can have adverse effects until the adrenal imbalance is addressed.

3) Hair loss can be one of the first symptoms of hypo to appear and one of the last to leave.  If thyroid hormone is in short supply, the body tends to take care of heart, brain, etc. before hair follicles.  I really don't think it was the Synthroid, per se, that caused your hair loss.  If you had either adrenal fatigue or RT3 dominance at the time you started taking Synthroid, the Synthroid could have made your hypo worse, thus bringing on the hair loss.  However, since you haven't taken Syntroid for 1.5 years, I think you have to look for the ongoing cause of the hair loss, one of which could be mild hypothyrodiism.

4) As long as you're doing it, ask for B-12 as well as the ones you mentioned.  Pernicious anemia (deficiency of B-12) can have symptoms similar to hypo and can cause slight elevations of TPOab.  Would your doctor order the 24-hour cortisol saliva test?  You spit into a cup at four different times of day and get distinct readings for each.  It gives a lot more info than the one-shot test.  Many mainstream doctors are reluctant to order saliva testing.

5) I've never had to use adrenals support so I really can't comment a lot.  Herbs are powerful...that's why early man used them as meds.  However, I have heard of people on the forum who have had good luck with adaptogens.  I do think it would be wise to do something about your adrenals before you try thyroid meds again.

6) Adrenals are not my forte by any means.  You could try posting that as a separate question on this forum, or there is an adrenal forum as well.

7) The problem with the reformulation of Armour was that many people who had been on it for years with excellent results did not do well on the reformulation.  New people are starting it all the time with good results.  Since you are just starting, I think you could try any one of them with an equally good probabilty of having success.

8) I can't predict how meds would affect your heat intolerance.  However, I think it's worth a shot to try to get your adrenals a little more in line and see if that allows you to tolerate thyroid meds.  You can't know until you try...

If you click on my screen name (at the top of this post, for example), it will take you to my profile page.  One of the options there, near the top is "Leave a Message".  Click that, and you can send me a personal message (PM) that will be private between you and me.

I know all this is kind of scary, but nothing is going to change unless you venture out there and try some things.  Your hair loss has continued for 1.5 years, so I doubt it's suddenly going to go away on its own.

What kind of a doctor are you seeing?  Is he new to you?  Do you feel comfortable with him?

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Avatar universal
Hi, thank you for taking the time to be so thorough!

This experience IS very scary because I do feel I'm on my own. I have gone from a slim, energetic woman with (if I may say so myself) great hair to someone who is the complete opposite of that, with anxiety thrown in for good measure...all in under 18 months. Even my own GP who has known the "before" me (been my GP for 12 years!), only says "just lose some weight" as if I'm even aeting anything to put on the weight, or as if that thought didn't occur to me, as IF I could lose the weight. I fon't even know hy it's piling on...

I've been to 3 Endo's in the past 2 years, each saying I'm not hypo, to a naturopath who wanted to put me on synthetic cortisone, to the current doctor who is a GP who spposedly practices Western and holistic medicine. I have lost complete trust in the medical community because even though my symptoms are obvious as the nose on their faces, they say I'm fine.

The current GP said in the initial eval that he is certain he can help me. By the 2nd appt, when looking over my results, he said I have Hashi's and wanted me on Armour until I asked about adrenals...when he suddenly said, "oh ok, let's actually fix that," which made me thin, I had to mention it for him to take note? He now keeps giving me names/numbers of dietitians and osteopaths to go see, even though we haven't fixed my current problems. I feel he is not up to the challenge.

I don't feel safe/taken care of by any of the doctors I've been to..so I'm trying to sort it out myself by asking questions.

Thanks very much for answering me. I will be sure to PM you when I find more answers. I just wish I could find a truly dedicated doctor who could do this right...finally.
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Avatar universal
Doctors can be very insensitive.  Really?  I'm overweight?  I hadn't noticed and/or didn't think it was a problem.

Your current doctor has, at least, run some tests that can be hard to get mainstream doctors to run.  You may wel have Hashi's; I just think that diagnosis is premature with your TPOab distinctly borderline.

I understand not trusting the medical profession.  I now have an endo that I love, but when I was still working with my PCP, I was pretty much on my own except for the occasional cryptic note scrawled on my lab report.  

I know you weren't all that impressed by this doctor, but he did order tests that you might have found difficult to get elsewhere, and he did recognize the need to address adrenals.  Those two things can be harder to come by than you might think.
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Avatar universal
Oh, I'm well aware that most won't and haven't even bothered to run the necessary tests. I have to come in with my research, notes, and articles for them to educate themselves, and they point blank refuse it all.

This current doctor did address the adrenal issue, but was actually ready to put me on Armour right away - until I mentioned, "How about my adrenals" and then he looked at my DHEA Sulfate (which is normal, but lower than could be for someone my age) and said, "Oh yea, actually...". So had I not said anything and followed his advice like so many patients would have done, I'd have been on Armour right now and very likely having a poor reaction. So that part makes me concerned about him.

Plus, now that I've called him on the phone since the appointment to address the info I have read about the adrenal supplements and how it can cause anxiety (which I already have plenty of), he said, "Oh yea, it can...so why don't you just buy all the items in the supplements separately except don't add the ginseng which can cause anxiety?" I said, but the amounts in the supplement you suggested (with ginseng) can't be matched separately, as they are a % of the supplement and his response, "Oh, I'm sure you can figure it out". Hello? Now I'm supposed to be an herbalist, too? And then he was like, also you can go see an osteopath and maybe she can help with nutritional information. I mean, does this guy sound like he's trying to push me off onto someone else or what? Plus, everyone he recommends costs thousands of dollars - I'm seeing him because he himself actually accepts insurance.

I also spoke with my G.I. about all this and he confirmed that my test results show subclinical hypo, potentially Hashi's but I'm so borderline with the TPOab that it is hard to say right now what's causing it. He also said he realizes that I'm concerned about going on Armour (or any thyroid meds) given how my hair loss began with that in the first place. I mentioned the adrenal supplements to him and he said that might not be a bad idea, except (he said), that kind of supplement could stimulate your adrenal to grow hair...in places you don't want! I said, even though it's all herbal stuff? And he said, yep..he's seen it happen to his patients before. He's a smart guy; too bad he's not an endo, though, and can't help me directly with this issue.

As for the GP, her constant go-to is "lose weight"...except, I'm NOT eating and gaining weight, so how am I supposed to lose weight? If it were up to her (and legal), she'd tell me to become bulimic or something! She always says, "I think a lot of your health issues will go away if you lose weight" and me, again, going, "Right....but see, I'm not eating enough to gain weight, so why am I gaining weight?" And she's like, well...it happens, just lose weight. I want to shake her by the shoulders when she does that (which is often).

Yes, doctors are very insensitive and unhelpful. In the meantime, I'm looking for my *SIXTH* endo, but someone who knows how to actually help out.

May I ask, how did you find your current endo? And you wouldn't happen to live in L.A., would you? Because maybe I could go to your endo.

Just a thought...
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Avatar universal
Herbs can have quite a kick.  That's why primitive man used them as medicine.  We live in the desert, and some animal will eat almost anything that grows, but not my herb garden...they know better.

Yeah, they just don't get it...how vicious the weight gain cycle is.

When I got sick of my PCP's incompetance treating thyroid, I went looking for an endo.  I'm in Sisters, OR, which is near Bend, OR...not a lot of choices.  I made up a questionnaire and faxed it to all the endos in my health plan and to an ENT who was treating my neighbor after her TT.  Amazingly, only one endo even bothered to answer me, but he answered himself (didn't push it off on his nurse or receptionist).

At that point, I'd been through a year of torture, and I had found this forum, so I was pretty informed on things thyroid.  I was totally prepared to stomp out of this endos office during my first appointment, telling him what an idiot he was and telling him not to bother billing me.  I loved him...totally unprepared for that!

I got lucky because if he hadn't answered my questionnaire, the next major medical market is in Eugene, which is about 125 miles away, or Portland, which is even further.  He's a great guy.  I've been stable for quite some time now, down to annual appointments, so I don't usually have a lot to discuss with him.  He knows I'm really involved in this forum, and he'll answer queations that I haven't been able to find answers to in my research.

Want to buzz up the west coast?  It's a pretty drive!
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Avatar universal
Oh, that's wonderful! How lucky!

I have been up to Portland...it's gorgeous up there. I wish I could go there, but can't afford to at this time. :/

Sending questionnaires to endos sounds like such a great idea but endos here can barely bother answering questions in person, let alone via fax/email. So sad.

I have been to 3 endos already...some "top" ones, too. I don't know why they are supposedly at the top of their field...because they sucked. One was sort of okay, as he tried to figure out what's wrong with me, but he is very, very medical model approach and wasn't open to alternative options/natural or dessicated meds, so that wouldn't work for me.

One told me I didn't have a goiter (I do), but it was the way the bone in my neck was sitting...this, even though she had the ultrasound report in front of her that said I also have a nodule on my left-side thyroid - which she also said I didn't have.

Another one said my thyroid was fine, it was all in my head! And he is the education director of one of the top hospitals around here.

They're hopeless. But I will keep looking, I guess.

Were you diagnosed as hypo or Hashimotos's?
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Avatar universal
menstrual issues, fatigue and hair loss are all hypo symptoms.  The ONLY symptom you have listed so far was the heat intolerance.  Anxiety can be both a symptom of both hypo and hyper.  Have you ever been tested for graves disease?  This is tested by TSI.  It is possible for people to have both Hashi's and Graves but it is a bit less common.  Tingling at the extremities can be a sign of low Vitamin B-12

DHEA can have side effects of aggression. It is like a steroid and maybe you've heard of "Roid rage".  Many weight lifters will take too much DHEA and get aggressive/abusive.  So I just mention that to make sure you are very careful if you decide to take any DHEA.  I understood maybe incorrectly that the adrenal test most test for is cortisol.

reverse T3 (RT3) and adrenals mess up how your body converts and absorbs the Free T3 in your body.  And you appear to have some issue related to adrenals and RT3.  The general recommendation's that I've read about all suggest that adrenals be dealt with first.  what that means exactly I'm not sure.

RT3 generally as stated by gimel above T3 medication may be a good way to go.  The body ONLY uses Free T3 and that ultimately is why going directly to T3 may help you as it avoids the conversion and thus won't worsen the RT3 problem and gives your body some T3 to use to help you less hypo.

Armour has both T4 and T3.  It has about 4 times more T3 than a human thyroid produces.  But it is still more T4 than T3.  However the T4 converting into RT3 is the concern initially.  However I'd say that Armour would be better than a straight T4 medication if anything other than straight Cytomel T3 medication.

i would tend to recommend trying some adrenal fatigue treatment that you can agree with.  If not because of the anxiety issues your concerned with than the 2nd choice I'd tend to consider would be a straight small (as in 5 mcg taken half in the morning and half in the evening) Cytomel T3 only medication.

You definitely seem hypo and need to get medication to improve your situation.
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Avatar universal
If you search through this listing of supposed Top Thyroid Doctors in California, you can find some potential prospects in your general area.  Note there are two pages for California.  When you have identified those of interest, you could try to narrow them down by either writing or calling and asking questions.  


The best questions are something like these.  Does the doctor have any problem with testing  for Free T3 and Free T4?  Is the doctor willing to treat a hypo patient clinically by testing and adjusting Free T3 and Free T4 as necessary to relieve symptoms, without being constrained by resultant TSH levels?  Is the doctor willing to prescribe T3 type meds?
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Avatar universal
Hi, and thanks for the very detailed response!

I didn't know there would be a different blood test for Graves, but I will ask my doctor about that! I just looked up symptoms of the disease (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001398/) and it does mention some of my symptoms, but it also mentions weight gain as a rare symptom, but it is a noticeble - and the very firstsymptom for me, followed by heat intolerance, followed by night sweats (which have stopped since my gyn lap surgery), followed by fluctuating TSH levels, followed by being given Synthroid, followed by hair loss. Is that how hypo comes on?

I will have vbood work done (again) in 5 weeks, so I will ask - insist - that TSI be added to the list.

I also have ben researching T3 meds myself and wondered if that wouldn't be the best treatment for me, after some adrenal support. However, I don't know what adrenal supports would work best. My doctor recommended Adrenotone, which is mostly adaptogenic herbs, but when I mentioned how one of the ingredients (ginseng) causes anxiety, which I already have plenty of, he said to buy all but the ginseng ingredients separately and take them that way. Of course, when I asked him how much of each, he said he was sure I'd figure it out. Um, okay...thanks? O_o

My other doctor, who has othing to do with my endo issues (he's a GI) also said adrenal supps could help (he's aware of my endo symptoms), but he has known of patients growing hair where they don't want it - as he put it - with those supps...so, not very comforting! Do you personally know of any adrenal supps that you would recommend?

As for the DHEA, I agree with you and was not really planning on taking it. I don't want to mess with too many things when my whole system is imbalanced already. I am hoping adrenal support will reverse my hypo symptoms, to be honest, though tat may not hapoen. But I hope, anyway.

If not, isn't Cytomel a short-term type treatment? Can weight gain or hair loss be caused by it?

I also didn't know the strength of T4/T3 was that much in Armour. Is Natur-throid the same, better, or worse?

I'm so amazed by all of you and your responses. Why don't these DOCTORS know this information? It makes me so angry...!

Thank you for your help!

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Avatar universal
Hi, and thank you for that link. I m familiar with the link, and with 2 of the doctors on there. No good. :/

However, I have since made an appointment with a 3rd one from the same list but they don't have any openings until June! I've also heard mixed reviews about this endo, so I'm still searching around while I wait for the next two months to come/go until that appointment. I do know for a fact, though, that this upcoming doctor is not even an advocate of Armour, so that answers most of the questions for me. I just wanted to secure something, just an appointment, so while my body falls apart and I suffer day in/out, I can at least feel I'm doing something to help myself - if that makes sense?

But so far, I have not found THE doctor, yet (thinking there isn't such a thing). But hope springs eternal.

Thank you for the excellent advice!
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Avatar universal
I may have answered my own question about possible (in this case, probable) side effects of Cytomel (T3): http://endocrine-system.emedtv.com/cytomel/cytomel-side-effects.html

Looks like it would aggravate my already-existing symptoms: hair loss, heat intolerance, anxiety, weight gain, menstrual irregularity, etc.

Interesting, though, that a T3 med would cause my very symptoms. Doesn't that mean I may need T4, then? I'd rather need nothing...but now I'm even more worried than before. Cytomel symptoms are alarming!

One other thing: I do notice decreased hair loss the HIGHER my TSH. Thoughts on this?

Also, another possibility: My hair loss increases noticeably during ovulation and during menstruation, and decreases (it's still a lot of loss, but least comparatively less) right when menstruation is over and picks up again as my hormones cycle toward my next cycle. Basically, on a 23-day cycle, my hair loss is at its worst from day 20 (3 days before the first day of menstruation) to 6 days into a 7-day cycle (day 26), and is noticeably less scary between days 27-30 (the last day of the menstrual cycle to 3 days after the end date). Then, a week later when ovulation begins, my hair loss increases and the hair loss count goes up as my body heads towards the next cycle. How do I know this? I have been charting my symptoms, esp. menstrual and hair loss, and it has been the same pattern for the past 7 months.

Looking at my lab results, does anyone have thoughts on my sex hormones, and whether there is also an imbalance there? (estrogen dominance, perhaps?). Or is my hypo causing this imbalance...?

It's like the chicken and the egg question, isn't it?
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649848 tn?1534633700
I take generic cytomel and it's very unlikely that it will cause your same symptoms, with the exception of intolerance to heat and it may even help alleviate that.  Often raising FT3 levels alleviates symptoms, not causing them.  The website you posted says "possible side effects" of cytomel, meaning that they are possible, not inevitable; it also says "side effects of cytomel typically occur when the dose is too high".  It's customary to start at a very low level and work up slowly as you can tolerate, taking care not to overdose.

High cortisol can cause weight gain, as well as being hypo.  You might want to try to get the 24 hr saliva test to check levels throughout the day. There are several adaptogens you could take for adrenal support; aside from the ginseng, rhodiola rosea, aswaghanda, and astragalus are the main ones. They can help with anxiety and if weight issues are adrenal related, adaptogens can also help with loss. There are no recommended daily requirements, but from what I've read, following the suggested dosages on the bottle is best.  A good naturo-path or herbalist could help you with that, if you don't feel comfortable trying it on your own.  There's a health food store in my neighborhood, owned by an herbalist and he will do consultations, for a fee, if you desire, so you could check for something like that.

You should get estrogen, estradiol, progesterone tested to make sure they are adequate.  Your entire endocrine system must work together in order for you to feel well.

As has already been stated by the others, hair loss is common when hypo, but there are a lot of other things that can cause it, as well.

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Avatar universal
Just a few things to consider.

If your body only uses Free T3 at the cellular level. And lack of sufficient T3 utilization at the cell level causes Hypo symptoms, how could taking T3 (which you know is low in the range) be a bad thing?

That is if you obviously do not get too much T3.  But you know you are low and you know you mostly have Hypo symptoms.

Another question I do not know the answer to but might want to be considered is;  If the adrenals are pumping out what they can to make up for the insufficient Thyroid hormone, why wouldn't providing sufficient T3 (which is the only thing the cells use) also help alleviate the adrenal issues?

I think that based upon the advertisements I see on TV and the listing of side effects, if we looked at every medicine and the possible side effects, we would never take any medication.  Many of those ads the side effects sound far worse than whatever the medicine is trying to fix in the first place.

There are a few people who long term take a T3 medication only.  It may be that it is only a short term thing for most people.  one reason for this is the reverse T3 dominance and as the RT3 clears the system, and the body starts to get the T3 necessary at the cellular level, things may begin to right the ship so to speak. And once on the road to improvement the straight T3 medication could be switched to Armour or even straight T4 medication.

People who have conversion problems it is not uncommon for them to have to take a T3 long term IN ADDITION to the T4 medication. Others can find a balance that works well on Armour or other natural dissected thryoid medications alone.

The traditional route seems to be to start with a straight T4 medication and increase dosages slowly.  At some point they will either feel well and they are satisfied and they stay there until they begin to feel poorly again.  For other people more is needed and they might need to add a T3 component.  Either switching to natural dissected or the addition of a small amount of T3 medication in addition to the T4 medication.

All of this is the "art" side of all of things and what can be the most frustrating part because what works for one person does not necessarily work for another. And it takes a LOT of time in some cases.  Not to mention finding a Dr who will actually treat your symptoms and look at more than just TSH and not simply stop when you get all your labs into the almost meaningless "normal range" regardless of how terrible you feel.

Above was the "traditional" or most common route. But you may already have determined that the traditional route may not work for you.

I keep coming back to the thought that you felt better when above 25 mcg and below 50 mcg.  Your FT3 levels are low.  You realize that something needs to be done but you are fixated on your hair loss and have convinced yourself that this was T4 induced.  I'm not convinced of that fact.  Clearly TO ME, your hair loss seems to hormone related since it is tied so closely with your menstrual/hormone levels.  Hypo hair loss is so common by the statistics it would lend one to believe that the hair loss may be related to hypo and not medication.  Although stranger things have happened.  I do seem to recall a few people reporting hair loss when starting on T4. But in many cases it was not really determined that this was just a coincidence with that particular hypo symptom showing up when they started the medication. And many people also report after the initial few weeks of hair loss after starting the medication they saw improvement.  Again making one wonder if it was the body adjusting to the hormone or the coincidence of the timing.

Ultimately your body at the cellular level needs sufficient T3.  Your challenge is to find out how YOUR body needs to be able to achieve that goal.  Many people it is pretty simple.  Others it is a real challenge.

In the end, you know you need to do something. You just have to decide what.  Since you seemed convinced that T4 is the cause, and you appear to have some RT3 dominance issues.  And you are concerned over herbal adrenal issues, The only thing that would seem to remain, even if short term duration is T3 treatment.

I know you are also concerned about anxiety. But that is a symptom of both hypo and hyper.  It may be possible that getting proper thyroid will help alleviate the anxiety symptom.  It is also possible that at least temporarily anxiety medication will be needed.  Also be careful with these as well as a recent thread discussed how addicting those can be.

Sorry for the long posts.  I'm just kind of typing things off the top of my head for you to consider.
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219241 tn?1413537765
Ok I am only reading part of the long postings, but just to let you know; hair loss is often reactive and takes time to shed. Example; Someone has major surgery due to a major accident. 2 to 3 months later they notice their hair falling out. Someone starting a dose of T4 medication waits patiently for the 6 week magic date to feel better but they notice their hair starts to fall out.
In the first case scenario the person thinks WTF? and starts searching for answers. The condition is very common and is caused by cellular stressors.
In the 2nd case scenario the persons TSH ( don't go on at me you guys who know about all the other testings!) is at say 6.82 so they go to the doctor to get some T4 meds and wait patiently the 6 weeks and they notice their hair falling out. It is due to the problem being back when the TSH was so whacked. It takes a long time for the body to react and then shed the hair. This is not to say it won't grow back, however it is sllllloooooooowwww and you won't see immediate results untill the T4 meds have established a good level.

  Do not go on DHEA supplements. Many doctors have jumped on the band wagon of adrenal fatigue/insufficiency etc. Your levels are fine.
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Avatar universal
Hi, thanks for the input. If you notice in my original post, I have had my estrogen/progestrone/testosterone tested.

Thanks for letting me know about your experience with Cytomel. I can only hope that it will help, not aggravate my symptoms.

I may look into getting the supplements separately for adrenal support, as you suggested. However, when I had taken Black Cohosh for a year to help with the heat intolerance, it actually caused excessive liver enzymes (as if I were an alcoholic, but I don't even drink!), and once I stopped the Black Cohosh, 2 months later, my liver enzymes went back to normal. Since then, I am weary of herbal supplements. But will definitely consider you suggestions..thanks!
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Avatar universal
When I was on Synthroid, my anxiety was off the charts. I could even tell I was OTT with my rections, but I couldn't help it. The sweating was extreme, too, like I was working in an oven - flushed face and swet dripping down my back and chest when it was 71F in the room.

My head also itched, a LOT, when I was on Synthroid. It then turned very pink and psinful...and then my hair loss began. I am sure the Synthroid was the culprit. However, what my body's reaction may have done is damage hair follicles because I was stupid enough to keep taking something - for 6 MONTHS - that my body was violently against. Yes, initially, I felt okay at 25mcg, but at the time, I was also on Levothyroxine, not Synthroid. Perhaps I am just allergic to Synthroid and the prolonged exposure to it has caused an autoimmune flare up?

What are your thoughts on Armour vs Natur-throid, btw?

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Avatar universal
I agree with you about the hair, from experience. Unfortunately, on top of everything else over the past 2.5 years, I've had 2 abdominal surgeries, complications from the surgery, new neighbors that have made my life hell for the past 7 months (including interrupting my sleep nightly!), a physical injury at work, a torn ligament in my foot that requires crutches at the present time,, a toxic relationship and a traumatic break up, and very poor social/familial support throughout. So yes, I have plenty on my plate to cause many to lose hair and throw off the system...and increase cortisol levels. If you even notice above in my original post, my a.m. cortisol is above the highest-normal, but only just. My doctor attributes this to possibly being stressed during the blood taking in the lab (more like, I was stressed by te incompetence of the lab!). i had a 24-hour urine cortisol test a year ago, and it came back normal. I may have to give the saliva test a try, though.

I agree and will not pursue the DHEA supplements. It didn't sound right to me, either.

My concern with the hair loss is not that it's not growing back (and it's not, as I have kept a photo diary), but that it falls out in handfuls all the time. I know stress can trigger this, extreme stress...but I have been through extreme stress before and it didn't affect my hair like this.

Perhaps the Synthroid triggered something in my body - an autoimmune response - and it has thrown my system off. But I am willing to gently introduce adrenal support supplements (like Adrenotone, you can Google it) and see if a little support in that direction will help my body.

Thing is, too, I have also lost hair on my arms, legs, and other body parts as well. This isn't just the head on my hair, it's system-wide. And this makes me feel it's something else than just stress...but I could be wrong, too.

I also had a complete autoimmune eval done in December 2011, and the rheumatologist called to say my lab results were completely nomal. It's just odd that now, my TPOab is elevated, only 3 months later.

These are the things that I don't understand and which make me hesitant with meds. What if I make things worse?

And as you noted, it takes a while for hair to react and I'd hate to find out 3 months into some other meds (T3, adrenal supplements, etc.) that my hair/body does not agree with it. I cannot afford to lose more hair on top of what I'm losing now. :/

Thanks for the input!

Thank you!
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