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Thyroid Diseases

Thyroid Problems or Side Effects From RA

12/20/2006

Question:

My GP is sending me for a bunch of test and he is checking my thyroid. I didn`t know why but when I did some research on the internet I have all the signs of an under active thyroid. Not just one or two but all of them. Most of the signs I thought were side effects of my medications: I thought it was the MTX causing hair loss and brittle hair; I thought winter caused my dry skin; I thought Prednisone and the Arthrotec caused my irregular periods. I thought Prednisone was causing round puffy face and weight gain; being cold all the time I though my anemia is back, etc. I am getting my blood test tomorrow and I will have to wait and see what the results are. What are the chances that I do have an under active thyroid? I also have a twin sister. Since I already got RA and now possibly something wrong with my thyroid should she also get tested? Is it genetic?

Answer:

The symptoms of an underactive thyroid are extremely non-specific. You may be quite right that your symptoms are related to your methotrexate, prednisone, anemia, and the wintertime. At this point I'd say the chance that your thyroid is underactive is 50/50. Fortunately the blood tests for thyroid disease are very accurate, and they will tell you whether or not there is a chance that taking thyroid pills will improve any of your symptoms. Thyroid disease does travel in families, and if it turns out that your thyroid is indeed underactive then she should certainly let her primary care doctor know so that she can be screened in an appropriate fashion.

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Response by:

Thomas A Murphy, MD, FACP, FACE Thomas A Murphy, MD, FACP, FACE
Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University