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Thyroid disorders are common among the general population and can lead to a great number of complications, ranging from changes in weight to fatigue and other symptoms that may become problematic in a patient’s daily life. A number of medical conditions not directly related to the Thyroid have been linked to those diseases that can alter the function of the Thyroid gland.
Recent studies have found that a possible link may exist between certain types of Thyroid disease and a skin-related condition known as Psoriasis.
In this post, we will expand on the possible connection, and we will look at particular symptoms that patients should be on the lookout for. We will also consider what an effective treatment protocol should look like in order to reduce the risks associated with this connection between these conditions.
The Connection Between Psoriasis And Thyroid Diseases
Multiple suggestions have been made that autoimmune Thyroid diseases may be closely related to other types of autoimmune conditions – including psoriasis. A group of scientists recently decided to take a closer look at these claims by considering the prevalence of Thyroid conditions and compare this to the statistics of psoriasis1.
During the study, the scientists extracted patient data for the period between 2000 and 2011, providing them with a significant number of patient files to analyze and compare.
The study first extracted data for patients who had been diagnosed with issues concerning their Thyroid gland in this timeframe. Once this data was successfully extracted, patient data were divided into three groups. The groups were categorized as follow:
- The first group consisted of patients who had Thyroid disease without the presence of psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis.
- The second group consisted of patients with Thyroid disease, along with psoriasis, but the patients were not diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis.
- The third group consisted of patients who had been diagnosed with a Thyroid disease, as well as both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
Further adjustments were also made to each group in order to provide more accurate data that would help the scientists behind this study determine if there is a definite link between the presence of a Thyroid disease and psoriasis.
The scientists involved in this study concluded that there might be a connection between these two, as the results that were gathered during the review period suggests that those patients diagnosed with psoriasis might be at an elevated risk of developing Thyroid disease.
The study also concluded that the presence of psoriatic arthritis might lead to a further increase in the patient’s risk for Thyroid diseases. These links primary exist for patients who develop an autoimmune condition that affects the Thyroid gland, such as Graves’s disease and Hashimoto’s disease.
While further research is still required to provide more details on this connection shared between these conditions, the scientists did note that both patients with psoriasis and those with Thyroid disorders tend to experience T-helper 1 cell-mediated inflammation. The study also found connections in genes and chromosomes that seem to be modified in a similar way in both psoriasis and autoimmune disorders.
What Is The Purpose Of The Thyroid Gland And How Does It Work?
The Thyroid gland is part of what is called the endocrine system – this is an interconnected system in the human body that is responsible for producing hormones, which then performs specific functions. The Thyroid gland is stimulated by a hormone that the pituitary gland releases – once stimulated, the Thyroid gland will release T3 and T4 hormones. These are also referred to as Thyroid hormones. T3 is an abbreviation for triiodothyronine, while T4 stands for thyroxine.
Both of these hormones are important for the metabolism – not only for the overall metabolism in the body but also at a cellular level. The two hormones work together in order to regulate the temperature of a person’s body as well, along with their heart rate.
The Thyroid gland is located in the neck area. It has a shape that most people would associate with a butterfly. There are two primary lobes – the left lobe and the right lobe, expanding toward the sides of the neck. In the middle of these lobes, the tissue is found that connects them together. Collectively, these structures form the Thyroid gland.
Most Common Types Of Thyroid Diseases
There is a relatively large number of conditions that are known to affect the Thyroid gland adversely. According to one scientific paper2, approximately 5% of the female population, along with around 0.5% of the male population, have such a condition. Each condition affects the Thyroid in a different way, but there are essentially only two resulting actions. Either the condition causes an elevation of Thyroid hormones in the body, or the condition causes levels of these hormones in the body to become too low.
Let’s consider some of the most common types of diseases that can affect the Thyroid gland and the level of Thyroid hormones in the body:
- Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is a condition where the level of Thyroid hormone declines and becomes too low. This is a relatively common condition to affect the Thyroid gland and is often caused by an autoimmune reaction in the body. When the immune system attacks the Thyroid gland’s healthy tissue, the gland’s function becomes inhibited. This leads to a reduction in the production of Thyroid hormones, which the body needs to function normally.
- Hyperthyroidism: In patients with hyperthyroidism, the opposite happens compared to hypothyroidism. Instead of having low Thyroid hormone levels, there is an increase in the production and secretion of T3 and T4 hormones into the patient’s bloodstream3. While hypothyroidism causes a reduced metabolic rate, hyperthyroidism rather increases metabolism, and this can cause the patient to experience a number of symptoms, as well as potential complications.
There is a number of conditions that may contribute to the development of both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. As noted before, autoimmune conditions and reactions are commonly to blame for these conditions. The presence of such a condition, however, does not necessarily mean that a person has an autoimmune disease causing issues with their Thyroid gland.
Symptoms To Look Out For
Patients who have psoriasis and those with psoriatic arthritis are advised to be on the lookout for potential symptoms that may signal the development of a Thyroid-related condition. Since there are different types of diseases that may cause an autoimmune reaction that damages the Thyroid gland, the list of symptoms can be relatively large. Still, understanding what symptoms to be wary of is important for these patients – the early detection of a Thyroid disease can lead to less invasive treatment and a lower dose of the drugs that will be required to treat the condition, which means a lower risk of side-effects, of course.
Let’s start by considering potential symptoms that may develop when a patient has hyperthyroidism or a condition that causes an increase in Thyroid hormones. In this type of condition, metabolism becomes faster. This can cause symptoms such as4:
- Insomnia – the patient may find it hard to fall asleep. Once they have fallen asleep, it may be difficult for them to remain asleep during the entire night.
- The patient may find that changes occur in their appetite. They may become hungrier than usual. Some patients may also have a reduced appetite.
- Fatigue is common among patients who experience the effects of hyperthyroidism.
- The patient may experience heart palpitations.
- Most patients with hyperthyroidism will experience weight loss, even without exerting effort from their side.
Other potential symptoms may include heat intolerance, diarrhea, and irritability. Since every patient is different, everyone will not experience the same symptoms. Some patients may also experience more severe symptoms than other patients.
On the other hand, we have hypothyroidism – this is when the Thyroid gland becomes underactive, leading to a deficiency of Thyroid hormones in the patient’s body. This condition causes metabolism to slow down and may also lead to a number of unpleasant symptoms, such as5:
- Fatigue is very common with hypothyroidism.
- A large number of patients will become constipated. This is due to slow metabolism.
- The patient’s hair may become thinner than usual.
- Cognitive dysfunction may occur, which can lead to impaired memory function.
- Hypothyroidism has been linked to a higher risk of depression – thus, signs of depression may be connected to an underactive Thyroid gland.
- The patient’s heart rate may be slower than usual.
- Among female patients, menstrual periods may be heavier than usual or may become irregular.
- Weight gain is also quite common in patients with hypothyroidism.
What Is Psoriasis And How Does This Condition Affect The Body?
Psoriasis is a chronic disease that is usually caused by an autoimmune reaction in the patient’s body. This is a relatively common condition and affects the skin. With psoriasis, the patient will experience an acceleration in the life cycle of their skin cells. This causes a buildup of cells on the skin’s surface, which can cause red patches to develop, along with what is referred to as scales.
While considered a chronic disease, psoriasis tends to come and go. The patient would experience a flare-up of the symptoms and would then be able to go on with their lives without having to worry about psoriasis for some time. The problem is, the patient does not know when the next flare-up of their symptoms would strike.
Some of the symptoms that may indicate the presence of psoriasis include:
- The skin may become covered with a thick layer of scales that has a silver-white color.
- Red patches may develop around the thick layers of scales.
- The affected area may also develop scaling spots. These spots tend to be very small.
- The patient may experience stiffness and swelling in their joints. This may be a sign of psoriatic arthritis as well.
- The areas where the scales develop may become itchy. The patient may also experience a burning sensation in the spot.
- Pain is not a symptom that every patient will experience, but there are some patients who do complain about soreness in the areas affected.
In some patients, psoriasis will only affect a single area on the patient’s body. There are cases where the condition can affect more significant areas of the body.
Thyroid disorders are often caused by the presence of an autoimmune response in a patient’s body, causing the body’s immune system to attack the healthy tissue of the gland mistakenly. New evidence has surfaced that suggests the presence of psoriasis may lead to an elevated risk of certain Thyroid diseases, such as hypothyroidism. Other types of autoimmune conditions have also been linked to a higher risk for certain types of conditions that affect the Thyroid gland in the past.
1 D. Ozeri. Is thyroid endocrinopathy associated with psoriasis? DermatologyTimes. 22 Jan 2019. https://www.dermatologytimes.com/treatments-plaque-psoriasis/thyroid-endocrinopathy-associated-psoriasis
2 S. Nussey, S. Whitehead. The Thyroid Gland. Endocrinology: An Integrated Approach. 2001. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK28/
3 S. De Leo, S.Y. Lee, L.E. Braverman. Hyperthyroidism. HHS Public Access. 27 Sep 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5014602/
4 K. Milas. Hyperthyroidism Symptoms. Endocrineweb. https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/hyperthyroidism/hyperthyroidism-symptoms
5 Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothyroidism/symptoms-causes/syc-20350284