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I am interested in learning more about lithium-induced hypothyroidism... I have searched but couldn't find much on this topic on this site. Any experiences shared would be appreciated. I understand it affects up to 10% of people who take lithium long-term and up to 14% of women who do... I have been experiencing a number of symptoms which together are making me worried but I don't know if I'm just being paranoid! I have been getting signs of carpel tunnel, feeling cold, dry lips, brittle fingernails and muscle cramps. My last blood test was normal but I don't know what the doc tested for. If I do have it could it go away by coming off the lithium? Any info welcome - I am clueless - thanks :/.

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Let me do some digging; a blood test will put you at more ease and I believe that with lithium routine blood testing is mandated in most cases (correct me if I'm wrong) and if you have a question on what exactly is being tested you should call your doctors office and ask you are looking for "TSH" "T4" and "T3" again the office manager or the physician has access to this documentation and you should contact him or her: 

 

 

 

Some pertinent information: 

 

"Patients taking lithium are also at risk of developing chronic autoimmune thyroiditis -- an autoimmune inflammation of the thyroid gland. For patients who are just starting lithium therapy, the presence of antithyroid antibodies -- even without active thyroid dysfunction -- puts them at higher risk of developing an overt thyroid condition while being treated with lithium. There also appears to be some evidence that lithium itself can cause elevated antibodies and the onset of autoimmune thyroid disease in some patients.

Lithium treatment also appears to be linked to an increased risk of hyperthyroidism -- an excess of thyroid hormone. Several studies have shown that hyperthyroidism is two to three times more prevalent in patients treated with lithium, versus in the general population."

 

"Anyone prescribed lithium should have their thyroid blood levels checked regularly to make sure there is no lithium-induced hypothyroidism.

If the thyroid gland is functioning normally, lithium used to treat these other conditions should have no effect on the amount of thyroid hormone released, Dr. Wartofsky said. But if you have Hashimoto’s, another subclinical thyroid disorder, or even a genetic predisposition to hypothyroidism, “lithium becomes a great burden to the gland that cannot be overcome.”

 

A simplified video: http://mental.healthguru.com/video/lithium-side-effects-when-to-call-your-doctor

Edited by Forbidden91
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I cannot speak for what will happen to you but I have hypothyroidism from 2 trials of lithium. The first was only three weeks, after which I needed to take thyroid hormone. Then a few years ago, I was put on lithium again for three months and it worsened the hypothyroidism so that I had to increase my thyroxine. The damage never went away after stopping lithium, for me. The good news is that it is easily treated with thyroxine. (That didn't stop me needing surgery for my carpal tunnels, though.) But plenty of people on lithium don't get this.

 

Definitely ask for a thyroid test and make sure you ask for both TSH and T4, not just TSH.

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I got hypothyroidism within a few weeks of being put on lithium and started taking levothyroxine.

Every person has their normal TSH range, which generally falls within what doctors call the "normal" range. However, some people's normal TSH, the level at which they feel healthy and have no Sx of hypo., is much lower than the upper ranges of the average "normal". The lab I go through considered 0.5-4.5 normal, but I only feel healthy if my TSH is between 0.75-1.75/2.

So I kept having my doctor tell me my labs were "normal" while I was incredibly sick with ranges of 2.5 & up. I finally got her to look at my labwork from years past, before lithium, to confirm that I needed a lower TSH. At that point, I got more levothyroxine and felt fine.

I've been off of lithium for months now and my TSH has been fine without levothyroxine.

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I have been on Lithium for not quite a year and have just been told by my new Shrink that my most recent blood test apparently showed that my thyroxine levels are low.

 

I wasn't able to get more information out of her, so am going to have to go back to my GP and clarify.

 

I have been more tired lately, so am thinking it's worthwhile me checking further into it all. So I'll get a better idea if I need to consider coming off the Lithium and how much (if any) damage has been done.

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I have been more tired lately, so am thinking it's worthwhile me checking further into it all. So I'll get a better idea if I need to consider coming off the Lithium and how much (if any) damage has been done.

 

I know that tired feeling.  I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, but have hypothyroid episodes.  I agree it is worth checking into, to see if it is your thyroid or not.  Your thyroid regulates so much in your body, including metabolism, hormones, etc.

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Some people do, some don't.

It's tested for in a routine physical in normal blood work. A doctor will also check your thyroid in the examination, to see if its a different size or shape.

 

Ask your pdoc to include it in the lithium levels if he/she doesn't already. It is something that should be checked more often as you age, as well. The treatments are fairly simple.

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