Thyroid & Itching

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by SnooZQ, Jan 15, 2009.

  1. SnooZQ

    SnooZQ New Member

    Loto & Interested Others,

    IME, many types of itching are not constant. Even with a bad case of hives (which may not be what we are talking about here, but which does exemplify some of the worst itchiness known to man), there will tend to be a flux in severity throughout the day.

    When itching is due to allergies & sensitivities, it tends to be worst either when in contact with/after exposure to/after eating the offending substance, OR, during the time of day when we naturally have a lower cortisol level, as cortisol is the natural substance our bodies produce that counteracts allergic response.

    I have experienced 4 different types of itching related to thyroid issues.

    The first two are directly related to low thyroid hormone levels. The simplest of these is extremely dry skin, which is very common in hypothyroidism (but also common in other dermatologic & hormonal problems). Dry skin itching tends to be fairly mild in comp. to some of the other types of itching I've experienced. It can occur wherever the skin is really dry, and is pretty easy to self-diagnose & self-treat.

    The second type of itching directly related to lower thyroid levels tends to come on in the evening, as both thyroid hormone level & natural cortisol level falls. IME, often the upper back is very itchy. If thyroid hormone levels continue to fall over time, the itching can become more generalized, over a larger portion of the body. I have concluded that, for me anyway, this sort of itching is related to thyroid hormone, since when my fT3 and fT4 are close to midrange, I experience none of it, & when they are low, I go crazy with bedtime itchiness.

    The third type of thyroid-related itching I have experienced is hives related to mast-cell activation by thyroid antibodies. In this case, the itching is primarily over the front of the neck, where the thyroid is, across the upper chest, shoulders, & upper arms. Hives were visible & continuous until I was able to totally rest my thyroid with higher-dose T3 medication for a period of time, to a level where my TSH was extremely low. This has tended to occur for me during or shortly after having a virus or bug. It is a bit less common than the first two types of itchiness, but unfortunately not at all well recognized by the medical community at large, with the exception of very clinically astute specialists in the field of allergy/immunology, and some (not most) endocrinologists.

    The final type of thyroid-related itching I've experienced was related to a change in thryoid meds, resulting in exposure to a dye in the new meds, which caused severe hives which would onset within 20 min. of taking the med. On discontinuation of that new medication, within a few days, the hives totally disappeared.

    Unfortunately I have found primary care docs to be fairly useless for FM-related problems, but I have made great strides in treating both my FM (which was previously moderately severe -- often needed a walker, & now is mild), and my thyroid problems, which are currently well-treated. That doesn't mean there aren't a few gems out there, it's just that std med training is geared to common thyroid problems & their presentations.

    So, in summary, in answer to Loto's question: often, thyroid-related itchiness is nonconstant. But in the case of a fairly severe hypothyroidism, it could be present more than not.

    Best wishes.

    [This Message was Edited on 01/16/2009]
  2. loto

    loto Member

    I'm so glad you posted this. Ok, I do have itching on my upper back all the time! I manage to get moisturizer on it, and it still itches, so I don't think it's due to dry skin, which I also have. I also get a lot of itching on my upper arms. So, I haven't asked my doc about being tested for hypothyroidism yet, but did find my blood work test results from June 08. Ok, the only thing I can find on it is the TSH result of 1.20, with a reference ratio of 0.35-5.50, so my level is reported as normal. There's no mention anywhere of T3 or T4 readings. Is this something that's done only if ordered? This bloodwork was done right before I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. So, since symptoms of hypothyroidism are similar to Fibro, or can be related to Fibro, what should I do? Does the TSH reading of 1.20 tell you anything, since you are familiar with all of this? Other results on this blood panel that are abnormal are: low hemoglobin, low MCHC, low MCH, high RDW, and high MPV. Please let me know what you think.
    Thanks so much,
  3. SnooZQ

    SnooZQ New Member

    Your TSH is "very good." Pls read what I wrote to Janalynn re: normal TSH & possible thyroid dysfunction.

    SO, for you: fibromyalgia, gut issues, hypoT symptoms, possible anemia (did they run a hematocrit?).

    IMO opinion, you would benefit from testing to get the following info: levels of free T3 (active) and free T4 (inactive) thyroid hormone. If you ask your doc for these tests, do not settle for total hormone levels, or reflex results. Only the frees, pleeese. It would also be good to get a thyroid antibody panel run.

    Having said that, it's a rare PHCP who will not balk at patient request for these tests, esp. where TSH is normal.

    If that happens to you, your choices would be to find a more sympathetic doc, or to self-order a thyroid test panel. To find a more sympathetic doc, think naturopath or osteopath. OR network around your community to find the docs who will do this sort of testing. You can even screen doc offices over the phone, asking if they ever order free T3 testing, or if they ever RX Armour for thyroid problems. Any doc who RXs Armour is likely to order those tests.

    NOW, should you succeed in getting those tests run, if they do show thyroid antibodies, pls shoot me a msg, here or on the board's thyroid forum, if your doc does not say something about your gut issues. There is another possibility to consider & I don't want to overwhelm you just now.

    I actually do hope that they find a simple treatable problem w/your thyroid. For me, thyroid meds have eliminated 80% of my fibro issues. I believe there are many women out there with a fibro diagnosis, who are primarily in need of hormonal treatment. Not all, perhaps with the fibro DX -- but there are some maverick fibro docs who do say, yes, all fibro is essentially due to hormonal glitches of one sort or another.

    Best wishes.
  4. SnooZQ

    SnooZQ New Member

    Hi Janalynn,

    May I ask what your doc Rxd for your thyroid, & how you have responded to that med?

    Also, if you'd feel OK sharing the name of your doc, I'd be interested. Is he/she an endocrinologist?

    Flying in the dark here, re: your TSH.

    Two scenarios I can think of. The first one, some docs may think a TSH of "1.0" is Not Good because it is not midrange. That isn't real common anymore, but there still are a few out there, who would think TSH @ 1.0 is too low. And that sort of doc might be inclined to RX something to "bring up" TSH. YUCK. That would be a thyroid inhibitor, and it would make hypo symptoms worse.

    But, likely your doc did say, "great TSH." For, the more progressive docs out there, current clinical thinking is that TSH @ 1.0 is 'perfect,' Goldilocks-type TSH.

    So, second scenario. It is not uncommon for folks w/fibro, & sometimes CFS, to have a pituituary gland or hypothalamus (in the brain) that is, for lack of a better term, sleepy. Underperforming, for any one of a number of possible reasons. The average MD dismisses that possibility as rare ... and it is fairly uncommon in the population at large. However, if you look at studies done on the fibro/CFS subpopulation, there is a body of research showing a sig higher than average incidence of HPA axis glitches.

    There is also a syndrome that can occur where the pit gland is damaged during hemorrhage of any sort. The syndrome is more common in women, due to the incidence of hemorrhage related to childbirth, miscarriage, etc. If that applies to you in any way, it would be impt info to pass on to your doc as there could be other hormones affected besides thyroid.

    The pituitary can also be damaged by head trauma. For example, a concussion. Again, impt info to pass on to your doc, if it's in your history.

    But back to the main question, why would it matter if the pit gland is underperforming? Well, TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)is actually a chemical messenger that is produced by the pituitary gland. TSH is not a thyroid hormone. TSH is like an email that the pituitary shoots off, addressed to your thyroid gland. That message will tell your thyroid gland how much thyroid hormone to make.

    So, if the pit gland is underperforming, it may not accurately sense your need for thyroid hormone, OR it may be too pooped out to send the right message out. OR it may send the message out too infrequently.

    So, a TSH can be normal, or even low, and be an inaccurate predictor of thyroid health. Personally, I would not be afraid of the thyroid meds. Work with your doc.

    Re: weight gain & T meds. Many people respond well to T4 type meds such as Synthroid, Levoxyl, etc. They tend to work best when both free T3 & free T4 are low. But some people do gain weight on a straight T4 med. In part that is because pouring extra T4 into the system can in some people, through feedback loops, decrease conversion of the inactive T4, to the active form of thyroid hormone, T3.

    For those individuals, a med that includes both T3 & T4, like Armour, may be helpful. But many docs resist prescribing a med with T3, as there is a somewhat higher risk of side effects, and very few serious medical side effects with a low dose of a T4 med.


  5. loto

    loto Member

    thanks for responding to my questions, snoozq. I did have a total blood panel run, and the hematocrit reads 40.3, which the test says is normal. I am wondering about the other possibility to consider. You wouldn't be overwhelming me at all. I've had the ct scan of all the organs in my belly, and it showed no lesions or tumors, thank goodness. I'm just still waiting for my primary doctor's office to get me scheduled with a gastro doc. Of course I'll probably get scoped from both ends, which I'm not looking forward to, but actually looking forward to it to get more answers or rule others out! That totally doesn't make sense! Is all I know is, in the past year, I've had more things wrong with me than I have in my whole 39 years! So, if you please would, tell me the other thing to consider!
    Oh, yeah, I wanted to describe the feeling before the itching starts. I always get the itching in the same areas on my upper back, and it'll start as kind of a vibrating/tingling feeling, like when you throw a rock into water and the ripples go outward in a circle?? that's the only way I can think of to describe it! sound familiar??
    [This Message was Edited on 01/16/2009]
  6. SnooZQ

    SnooZQ New Member

    Not a bad idea to see the gastro doc.

    Just wanted to say, there is a DX triangle of anemia, thyroid disease, and celiac. Celiac disease is an autoimmune gut disorder that affects the villi of the small intestine. It can cause a variety of gut problems, classically diarrhea, but in other people, it will be bloating and/or constipation. Some folks get gut pain with it, others have "silent," painless celiac. It's diagnosed via serum tests and/or endoscopy. Celiac disease is a form of gluten intolerance, and is treated by a gluten-free diet. Which is a hassle, but much less so than in past, as there is so much more awareness now, and more GF products available.

    And then there's me. I am normal on all of the blood tests for celiac as well as for gluten allergy, however I am definitely gluten intolerant. I zapped a lifetime -- 5 decades of SEVERE IBS (several hospitalizations), in my first month on a GF diet. It was a wonderful serendipitous discovery for me, which I made while cooking GF for our entire family after my second child was discovered to have both an IgE gluten allergy, as well as celiac. First child had gluten allergy.

    Despite what you may have heard from your med doc, fibro & food allergies/sensitivities do frequently occur together. Not that I'm saying fibro causes food intolerances. In many cases, it's the other way around. Or perhaps there's a 3rd problem causing the other two.

    For some people with fibro, gluten is the culprit, for others its dairy or citrus or corn, & for others yet, it's a host of problem foods. Something to keep in mind if your GI doc comes up emptyhanded.

    But fibro may be caused by many other things as well. My good friend who thought for years that she had fibro, & who was dxd as such by several docs, decided to see a neurosurgeon after her cousin w/similar symptoms was helped with vertebral disk surgery. Long story short, her neurosurgeon believes she does not have true fibro, but like her cousin, was misdiagnosed & suffered for many years, when the majority of her symptoms are most likely related to her herniated disks, which she is awaiting surgery on.

    Not sure about those vibrating/rippling sensations you describe. To me, that sounds more like a neuropathic symptom. But the tingling I can relate to. Do you take a multi with a goodly amt of B12, have you had your B12 level checked?

  7. loto

    loto Member

    Thanks again for replying. Yes, I just started this week with B12. That's the only vitamin I am presently taking. It's strange, I have trouble remembering to take the vitamin, when I pop pain meds all day long, and take my morning energy booster daily!!! I know I should search out a good multivitamin, one with iron, also, but it seems in the past when I did take an iron supplement, it constipated me more! So, I finally found out I'll see the GI doctor on the 28th, and see what he says. This is just all so confusing and mysterious to me, when I come up with new or different symptoms of something at least every month. I think I need to also figure out the right type of doctor to see who will order more blood tests, such as checking for thyroid and lyme disease. Would I see a rheumatoid doctor for that, I wonder? All I know is, I like my medical doctor, but I just don't feel he is familiar enough with fibromyalgia (the total picture of it). Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel like the problems I have are related, instead of just separate things going wrong.
  8. SnooZQ

    SnooZQ New Member

    Hi there, you're welcome.

    May I ask what your morning energy booster is? I'm always looking to add to my repertoire, esp. since I can't do much coffee anymore (weak low acid instant ... doesn't cut it).

    FYI, if your doc thinks you need to be on an iron supp, I'll tell you about my recent experience. I've had on & off anemia throughout my life & loooooads of experience with what you're saying about iron supps being constipating. This last round, my doc once again wrote an RX for that demon ferrous sulfate.

    I decided to do my own research & on the basis of other consumer testimonials, decided to give an OTC product a try. I used Enzymatic Therapy brand Ultimate Iron. It contains "liquid liver" as well as a form of iron (ferrous succinate) much more highly absorbable than the form of iron that my doc had RXd. I did do my own research to try to ensure the company was being careful in sourcing the liver product.

    I know it sounds like a gross product. But I froze the softgels & had no trouble with them at ALL. No nausea & no constipation, as I'd had w/the ferrous sulfate RXs in past.

    Long story short -- on my 6 wk reck, my labs had rebounded to midrange. My doc was ecstatic & even interested in how I'd accomplished this, as he thought it unlikely I'd be able to make sig. improvement even in 6 weeks, on what he'd RXd. So, I do rec. that product to anyone who dislikes reg. iron & who is in need of supplementation. Something to file away should you ever need it. They may sell this product through ProHealth -- I'm not sure. I believe in past they've had a number of Enzymatic Therapy supps.

    Good luck with your GI doc appt. As for further thyroid tests, I'd start w/your GP. If you strike out there, it's network and/or integrative/naturopath/osteopath doc as your best bets.

    I'm totally ignorant of lyme testing, etc. Some people search out specialists called "Lyme Literate Docs" aka LLMDs since apparently testing can be tricky. Perhaps if you put a "call" thread out on the board for the lymies, they could help you.

    Best wishes. I'm interested to hear back if you get any interesting findings from your docs, if you are willing to share.

  9. loto

    loto Member

    Hi again. Each morning I take 1 Stacker 2 supplement. It's basically herbal stuff and caffiene. It's OTC and around my area is only 2 bucks a packet (each packet contains 4 capsules). For myself, I only need 1 capsule a day. If I take one in the afternoon, I have trouble getting to sleep at nite, probably because I also drink caffiene at supper!! So, that's what's worked for me for a long time. I'm not a coffee drinker, and this works wonders. I think you can actually take up to 3 per day. But, I'd start off at one to see how it affects you!! Don't want to get the jitters!!!! Can't wait till my GI appt next week, my stomach feels like there's a giant rock in it this morning!!!
    Take care
  10. CanBrit

    CanBrit Member

    I never would have associated night time itching with thyroid. I do have very dry skin and my TSH level, I think, is still to high at 3.7. My Dr. said that my FT4's are within normal limits so I don't need a higher dose. I have a very low heart rate, 58 beats a minute, that I'm sure is related to my thyroid issues along with a constant low temp, 96.2.

    Thanks for the great info!!!

  11. gapsych

    gapsych New Member

    I have no idea if this is related however the following happened to my father.

    He had some elevated enzymes with his liver and one of the side effects was itching.

    I am assuming that if you have blood tests they included a liver panel.

    This may not apply at all. I am not a doctor.

    But reading this post made me think of this.

    Take care.
  12. quanked

    quanked Member

  13. SnooZQ

    SnooZQ New Member

    Wow. What a history. I only bet when the powerball goes over 50M, but I'd sure be interested to hear part 2 if you do succeed in getting more current info on your pit.

    Interesting that the glandular supps are helpful. I'll have to look into that.

    I think quercitin is a great supp, and though I can tolerate only very small doses of it due to gut sensitivity, it is still helpful for many allergy, immune & inflam problems.

  14. SnooZQ

    SnooZQ New Member

    You are right, liver problems can also cause itching. IME, a "chem panel" includes a few liver enzyme tests, sort of a screen.

    I'm not exactly sure if thyroid-related itching is in some cases related to liver function, but ... at some level, most body functions impinge on other body functions.

    I appreciate you pointing out how itching can also be a symptom of liver disorders. There can be many different primary causes for some of these symptoms we face.

  15. SnooZQ

    SnooZQ New Member

    When your back is really, really itchy & your hubby isn't around & you can't get to the itch 'cause your fibro is killing your shoulder muscles ...

    go to Walgreens & splurge on a back-scratcher. I got a really nice wooden one that has little "fingers" on it. Only $1 on sale. It actually does a better job of scratching than my DH does, he chews his nails too short, but then again, he's a little friendlier than the Walgreens stick.

    Another great way to scratch the itch is to move your back against a wall with a bumpy, textured surface ... you will want to do this in private, it looks very weird to those watching ...

  16. loto

    loto Member

    I can relate to this way of scratching!!! Except, I haven't bought a "real" back scratcher yet. I use a long handled metal spoon I dug out of my kitchen drawer!!!! And, if I'm too tired to get up off the couch to get it, I just sit on the couch and move around the back of it. My daughter looks at me like, "what the h*&^ are you doing?" I just laugh at her. Gotta do what u gotta do or you'll go crazy!!!!!!