Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of thyroid deficiency. As a practicing allergist, I would routinely palpate the front of the neck area around the windpipe where the thyroid is located. Every few months or so, I would feel an enlarged thyroid, order a high sensitivity TSH test, and, if positive, check for thyroid antibodies.
This saved my patients from having to go through the symptoms of underactive thyroid(hypothyroidism), since I detected the problem at an early stage, before symptoms developed.
Major symptoms of an underactive thyroid include fatigue, increased sensitivity to the cold, constipation, unexplained weight gain, and depression. Be sure to seek medical care if you are suffering from these symptoms.
An elevated LDL cholesterol is one of the biochemical results of hypothyroidism, and can lead to heart problems. I have been hearing that the routine physical examination it is becoming less common, and may even be replaced by telemedicine. The early detection of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis will be one of the casualties, since the doctor can’t find an enlarged thyroid unless she palpates for it.
You might wonder why an enlarged thyroid gland is associated with decreased thyroid production. The way it works is that the pituitary gland at the base of the brain detects a decrease in thyroid production. It responds by secreting a thyroid stimulant, TSH. The TSH causes enlargement of the thyroid gland, leading to the association of an elevated TSH with decreased thyroid activity.
Hashimoto’s is one of the large number of autoimmune diseases. A person who has an autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, type one diabetes, or celiac disease, is more likely to develop others, and should be alert to that possibility.
Finding that you have low thyroid activity is only part of the problem. It takes several visits plus input from both patient and doctor in order to arrive at the proper medication schedule. There are several different thyroid medications, and people respond differently to them.
Be on the alert for hypothyroidism. It can sneak up on you.
Sleep has many functions, among which are clearing the body of toxins and consolidating memory. The exact amount we need is determined by age, and genetics among another things. From what I’ve read, eight hours is required, plus or minus an hour.
That being said, there are a few among us who are super sleepers. Going back in history this probably included Mozart and Thomas Edison: They could live healthy, productive lives with as few as three or four hours of sleep. Genetic mutations, including changes to the Orexin Gene receptor account for true super-sleepers.
Familial fatal insomnia is a genetic disease operating through prion proteins, and does not illuminate the problem of insomnia. In most people there are two major forces which determine the onset of sleep, the circadian rhythm, and sleep pressure.
The TIMING of the sleep varies from morning larks to night owls. These shifts in the circadian rhythm is also genetic, involving many genes, including PER and CRY. Diurnal rhythm can apparently be changed, But with difficulty.
The sleep pressure is caused by the gradual daily accumulation of adenosine in the system, apparently resulting from the stripping away of the phosphate groups from the energy currency, ATP. This can be assuaged by caffeine containing drinks, such as tea or coffee. Caffeine temporally blocks the effect of adenosine, but when it wears off, you usually go right back to your fatigue state.
INSOMNIA occurs when you do not get as much sleep as you need, and are tired in the daytime. This is a major problem for a lot of people.
Insomnia has many causes. Stress will cause an increase in Cortisone in the bloodstream which interferes with sleep. Caffeinated drinks nicotine and other stimulants can cause you to have difficulty falling asleep, and alcohol will help you fall asleep but will often result in awakening in the middle of the night when the alcohol is metabolized.
Depression, Parkinson’s, chronic pain, gastroesophageal reflux and any other medical conditions can interfere with sleep. Sleep apnea, often associated with overweight and heavy snoring, is a special problem that sometimes needs the help of a sleep specialist.
Some poor habits such as reading in bed, doing work in bed, eating at bedtime, and heavy exercise just before bed can also be a problem.
A regular routine of Preparing for sleep, such as brushing and flossing and taking a warm shower are also helpful; you can get more details by looking up “sleep hygiene”.
A lot of people take a nap, but this can cause some difficulty in going to sleep. Among things you can do to prevent insomnia include living an active life, making your bedroom comfortable for sleep, and using your bedroom ONLY for sex and sleep.
Please refer to the accompanying Mayo clinic article for more organized information.
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Our Kidneys and Liver have a lot in common. They are not dramatic, take-care-of-me-now organs like our Hearts and Brain, but usually do their job quietly until they lose almost all of their function. They have lots of reserve; you can donate one of your kidneys or a piece of your liver and notice no change. They are both vital organs, and you will die without them.
Since they both help clear wastes and toxins from the bloodstream and produce hormones, they SHARE SYMPTOMS such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and mental changes.Their performance can be checked by blood tests. Healthy habits will protect their -and your- survival.
Certain Drugs impair their operation. They are both composed of many identical functional units, the nephron in the kidney, and the hepatic lobule in the liver.
The GLOMERULUS of the Nephron is a tuft or ball of capillaries and associated kidney cells that allow the fluid and dissolved molecules of the blood to come through, while restraining the larger proteins and cells of the blood, keeping them in the vascular system. The smaller molecules of sodium, potassium, urea and other waste products leak through the glomerulus.
This filtered liquid travels through the long, folded kidney tubules, where the RIGHT AMOUNT of salt and water are REABSORBED. This keeps the vascular fluids, the internal environment, the MILIEU INTERIOR, perfectly well adjusted for proper cell function. It is when the chemical environment of the body falls out of adjustment, when the kidneys FAIL to do their job, that the cells of the body cannot function properly, and Symptoms-fatigue, lethargy etc. – develop.
BLOOD PRESSURE is intimately involved with the KIDNEYS, which has an Endocrine function. The Renin( Renal=kidneys) Angiotensin system is a major regulator of blood pressure.
You may have heard of the ACE-2 receptor as the binding site of th COVID Virus. This Angiotensin Converting Enzyme receptor is on the surface of cells all over the body and normally functions to control blood pressure.
DIABETES is the most common cause of end stage renal disease (ESRD), bringing our healthy triad of SLEEP DIET and EXERCISE to our attention once again.
POLYCYSTIC KIDNEY DISEASE is an inherited condition where many nephrons fail to hook up to the urine collecting system, and the fluid builds up into cysts, which then eventually replace the rest of the kidney. Pressure from urine blockage by an enlarged prostate, or even lack of ureteral valves can also back up into the kidneys and eventually cause ESRD.
Infections and autoimmune diseases can result in ESRD. Treatment of ESRD is usually a Kidney transplant or Dialysis. There is a waiting list for the former and the latter is life-altering. You can’t beat a healthy lifestyle.
Sometimes I wake up in the morning with a feeling of RELAXED ENERGY. My mind is clear, I have no fatigue, and believe once more that the world is wonderful, and it’s great to be alive.
I St-re-tch, exercise my hands (I have Osteoarthritis, and they are stiff), take out my Nite guard ( I grind my teeth at night and would otherwise wear them away), take my beta blocker eye drops ( to lower my intraocular pressure) and wash down my Eliquis ( an anticoagulant to prevent stroke from my Atrial Fibrillation) with 16 oz. of water, while thinking about all of the delights awaiting me.
Yes, my body was in better shape 60 years ago; but I had much more responsibility then, and much less discretionary time. All things considered, I like to believe that I am happier now.
The KEY is to stay in GOOD HEALTH. GOOD SLEEP is critical, but it cannot be had by willpower alone. As I have discussed previously, you need a bedtime routine, good SLEEP HYGIENE.
You also need a…….. GOOD DIET. with lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fatty, spicy foods will stay in your stomach and bother you at night, particularly if you eat Late. I like to finish eating by 5 PM. Late dinner is also likely to produce GERD, and maybe Sleep Apnea.
GOOD EXERCISE is also critical. If you are not tired at the end of the day, it is hard to get good sleep. I always seem to sleep better on the day when I walk the hills for an hour, which is 3 days a week. Try not to exercise within 2 hours of bedtime. Assuming that you have a good base of SLEEP, DIET and EXERCISE, there are other mechanisms that can foul things up. INFLAMMATORY conditions often cause fatigue.
The most common inflammatory diseases are OBESITY, METABOLIC SYNDROME and DIABETES. OBESITY is the defining disease of our EXCESSIVE SOCIETY, where there is too much of everything, and excessive consumption is relentlessly advertised everywhere.
External correction is probably a pipe dream, since there is no will even to Tax Sugar-containing Beverages, the “low hanging fruit” of dietary excess. Internal correction is all that is left, and that takes WILL POWER, also in short supply.
INFECTIOUS DISEASES are a subset of inflammatory conditions. COVID 19 is the poster child of infection, and FATIGUE is one of the hallmarks of the disease. Interleukins, like TNF-alpha, IL-1, andIL-6 are some of the defense factors which cause the fatigue. AUTOIMMUNE Diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus are also associated with fatigue-producing interleukins.
Fatigue even has its own flagship disease, CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME. Chronic viral disease has been suspected as the cause of this condition, and inflammatory cytokines may be elevated. This condition, and the similar GULF WAR SYNDROME are still poorly understood. Several CFS patients were sent to me when I was in practice, and I had some success in getting them to exercise regularly, which seemed to help. CANCER is another category of diseases where Fatigue is prominent.
Inflammation plays a role in these diseases, which also drain energy substrates from the Patients body; Cancer cells have a high metabolic requirement. MEDICATIONS, Cancer meds especially, but a variety of other Drugs are associated with FATIGUE. I went through MY MEDICATION LIST. Lo and behold, 3 of them are associated with fatigue.
Finasteride is a relic of my prostate operation, recommended to keep it from growing back. It causes fatigue, probably because of its ANTITESTOSTERONE effect. At least I can still pee, and am not bald. I take METFORMIN because of its fame in prolonging life. Its mechanism is that of interacting with the Sirtuin system, and increasing the inefficiency of mitochondria. Isn’t this surprising?
Like many other things in physiology, you place a stress on the body, and the body responds by improving its performance. If you are fatigued, you exercise. Respecting the body works with drugs as well. If you are drinking a ton of coffee and stop it, after a few weeks you will feel less fatigued.
And when you ARE FATIGUED, you drink a LITTLE coffee, and it wakes you right up. Caffeine works by displacing ADENOSINE, which causes Fatigue as it increases through the morning, peaking at SIESTA (or tea) time,at about 2 PM. OMEPRAZOLE, which I take to prevent HEARTBURN, also is related to fatigue especially if it blocks MAGNESIUM for long enough. DEPRESSION overlaps with fatigue, as does SLEEPINESS, to increase the complexity of the situation.
Many chronic LUNG, KIDNEY and LIVER diseases are associated with fatigue as a secondary concern. STAY HEALTHY!
One of my nurses who was usually in good health developed chronic complaints. She felt tired all the time and had a variety of aches and pains. She has been going through menopause for a long time but this set of problems seem different. Then she broke her arm after sustaining a minor fall. An investigation was in order. I should order some tests, but which ones?
Anemia would explain the fatigue so a CBC was a no brainer. With the surprise fracture, I wanted to cast the net wider, so I ordered a comprehensive metabolic panel.
This is an automated test that was a good value for the amount of information provided, I thought.
Nobody was more surprised than I when the test provided results that were the key to her very rare diagnosis. Her serum CALCIUM was very high, and her alkaline phosphatase was also elevated.
Further evaluation showed her diagnosis to be PRIMARY HYPERPARATHYROIDISM.
Removal of her abnormal parathyroid gland was curative. I have been a big fan of the Comprehensive Metabolic Panel ever since.
The Panel of 14 tests includes:
- Glucose – an essential test to check in Diabetes, Seizures and Coma.
- Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, and CO2 and the associated Anion Gap – can be abnormal in a variety of accidents, and other conditions.
- BUN and Creatinine – cleared by the kidneys, and become elevated in Renal, or Kidney conditions.
- Calcium and alkaline phosphatase – reflect bone metabolism, and are sensitive to Vitamin D and parathyroid hormone, as in my nurses case.
- Albumin and Globulin – important blood proteins. Globulins contain the important immunoglobulins. A variety of conditions will influence their values.
- AST (SGOT) and ALT – elevated in liver disease
Type in “Comprehensive Metabolic Panel” in google, and choose from the variety of “hits” to get more information about this “ Sherlock Holmes’ Magnifying Glass” for Physicians.
Medicine would be hard pressed to do without it!