Thursday, October 21, 2010

thyroid and Multiple Sclerosis

   While the Internet empowers me to just click in to Gothenburg, Sweden and the meeting of European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis and learn “…that disorders such as thyroiditis, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma are associated with MS…” Patients With Multiple Sclerosis at Risk for Thyroid Disease, the hard wired part of me cannot help but remember and reflect on how all this began before the Internet.

   Preceding Patti’s diagnosis of “probable MS” in 1985 she went through a rough health streak. Frequent strep throat eventually was treated with a tonsillectomy. Next up was diagnosis of Grave’s disease, thyroid surgery and better life through chemistry, Synthroid. Then almost as if a diagnosis of last resort, ‘probable MS’, four years later that would change to “no question about it” MS.

   Would today’s extraordinary access to information have changed any decision making back then? I don’t think so. Hey! I’m bleeding here, a band-aid would be nice still seems the logical approach to symptoms.

   However even though it does not apply to our story the ‘what if’ of it all does not escape me. Now days there is so much more to consider.

   As early as 1999 “findings might have therapeutic implications because interferon treatment can induce … thyroiditis” Association of MS with thyroid disorders 

   Or, “Some treatments and medications can trigger Graves' disease and/or thyrotoxicosis in some people, including: Interferon Beta-1b (Betaferon, Betaseron, Extavia, Ziferon), Interleukin-4, immunosuppressant therapy, … a third of patients receiving Campath-1H therapy for multiple sclerosis develop Graves' disease within six months …” Risks and Symptoms of Graves' Disease and Hyperthyroidism / Risk Factors, Triggers, Causes, Signs and Symptoms 

   Twenty-five years ago while Patti marched confidently toward solutions from internist to endocrinologist to surgeon, the duality of MS and Grave’s disease was never mentioned (perhaps not known at the time) “…There is a significant co-occurrence in patients with MS and Graves' disease …” Co-occurrence of autoimmune thyroid disease in a multiple sclerosis cohort  

Patrick Leer
Caregivingly Yours, MS Caregiver @


  1. I like the way you've pulled this together. The words which jumped out at me were the ones saying that we know diseases such as 'rheumatoid arthritis' are associated with MS. I've only read differently in the literature but have thought otherwise in real life. Too many find me or my blog because they live with both or are looking for a connection.

    Btw, I'm hypothyroid with the synthroid on board. Related to MS? Who really knows for sure.

  2. Thanks Lisa! though credit must go to non-US research which for whatever reason just seems to explore further outside the box.

  3. The relationship between my thyroid and my MS symptoms is a stressed one, to put it kindly. I'm hypo. Here's what I had written for an MS message board a while back: "Does anyone have the same difficulty I have in taking the full dosage of their thyroid medication? When I take the recommended thyroid med dosage, my body temperature increases and my MS symptoms worsen. I have now tried all the different types of thyroid meds (both natural and synthetic) and in different dosages. Unless I take a much lower dosage than recommended (for example, 37.5 mcg instead of 75 mcg or more), my basal temperature starts inching up above 98.6, and I start feeling increased numbness, reduced function in my legs, etc. Though I feel much more comfortable at 37.5 mcg, staying at that dosage makes my TSH shoot up (13 at the last test), and the doctor gets very upset. At a TSH level of 13, however, I feel physically much better and my T3 and T4 are within normal range. However, my doctor is still quite alarmed. I do much, much better in terms of MS symptoms when my basal temperature is below 98.0. This only happens when I am significantly under dosed on my thyroid med. I feel like I am caught in a Catch 22. If I treat my hypothyroidism as recommended, my MS gets worse, but if I under dose to avoid heightened MS symptoms, my TSH is way too high. Does anyone know of any research regarding this that I could take to my endocrinologist?" I got one very nice response from someone who essentially said that TSH is just one number and I have to listen to my body. My neuro says I can flirt with a TSH at 8-ish but I gotta stay on the thyroid meds. With my limited energies, I have tried to research this online and have pretty much gotten nowhere so when I see a post like yours, my ears perk up. Whatever you, Lisa, or someone can do to expand on this topic would be much appreciated.

  4. Judy - what MS sypmtoms get worse when your temperature is above 98.0? I think some symptoms can feel like they are getting worse when in reality your body is just healing. Think about how your fingers and toes feel after getting too cold - when the feeling starts to come back as you get warmer it feels worse, may even be painful, before it feels better. Thyroid hormone is associated with repair of damaged nerve fibers. See this link:


Blog Archive