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Thyroid Issues And Celiac?

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I have just been told I have thyroid nodules and am borderline hyperthyroid (my TSH is at the bottom of the normal range and T3 and T4 are at the top). A friend told me about the link with celiac disease and having read around a bit I'm starting to wonder.

I've been having lots of problems with anxiety, heart palpitations and panic attacks. Feeling very tired all the time. The issue that's really bothered me recently has been painful swollen glands in my neck and under my right arm (my initial thought was breast cancer but they've done a batch of tests and that all seems to be fine, but that was how they diagnosed the thyroid nodules).

I nearly always have a phlegmy cough that won't go away - periodically get told it's asthma but it's not really a wheeze, it's just a constant annoying cough. I pass something nearly every time I go to the toilet - it can be 4-6 times a day or even more. Mostly it's solid and looks fairly normal but it nearly always floats. My stomach is often bloated and sometimes I can actually feel or see where the upper part of the bowel is blocked for a while. I've never really given the stomach issues too much thought as things always move on eventually, but thinking about it I can remember even as a child having quite painful stomach cramps and not knowing why - nothing was ever looked into or done about it.

Could this be celiac? My problem is I'm living in Kuwait and finding the medical system both expensive and not very intelligent - the doctor looked at my thyroid results, clapped his hands, said everything was within the normal range (just) and sent me home. So I feel totally disinclined to go back and hassle him for yet another test - he has already decided I'm a hyperchondriac. I could wait and get tested when we're back in the UK but if going gluten free would sort out some of these issues, particularly the gland issue, now, I'd much rather just get on with it. I have a good friend who's a nutritionist who says you can have a perfectly healthy and nutritious diet without any gluten. Is it okay to go ahead and try it for a few months, until we go home, without a diagnosis?

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Welcome to the board! I am sorry to hear you are going through this but you have landed in a community of caring people, all excellent resources, any many with first-hand experience. There can indeed be a connection between thyroid problems and Celiac. In fact, you don't need to be Celiac, you can be just gluten-sensitive and that is enough to trigger the auto-immune response necessary to jam up the thyroid.

First thing I would recommend is not to dismiss your intuition, even if professionals of the medical community try to minimize what you are experiencing. There are good doctors out there who "get it" and will work with you as a partner, although it can be a challenge to find one. First step is to get a good MD (one who gets it) on your team, preferably an endocrinologist or internist, preferably board certified, preferably "integrative" (not solely a western medical approach). You may have to kiss a few toads... I am not trying to be alarmist but hyperthyroidism is serious so make sure you start looking for good endo MD soon in case you have to churn through a few different docs. Mary Shomon's website about.thyroid.com has a "top doctors" directory, click on http://thyroid.about.com/cs/doctors/a/topdocs.htm to check it out, perhaps there is one in Kuwait or somewhere nearby you can catch a cheap flight to.

I see you mentioned your doc tested your TSH, T3 and T4. Did he or she perform any thyroid auto-antibodies tests?

Next is read, read, read. You can do thyroid searches on this board and learn a ton, about your symptoms, vitamins, different diets, anatomy, lab tests, etc. There is also a good book by Mary Shomon, "Living Well With Graves' Disease and Hyperthyroidism". It will give you quite a bit of good info and I think the book is only $10 or $15 USD, although I am not sure how much shipping to Kuwait would add. This knowledge will make you a better, much more discerning patient once you do find a doctor, I guarantee it.

Then there is gluten, nasty insidious gluten. It is everywhere, even in naturally gluten-free foods though something called cross-contamination. And based on your description of your symptoms, gluten may soon become your new number one enemy as it is for so many here. There are many others here on the board that actually have Celiac and are much more qualified than I am to give you the best way to get started there with determining your sensitivity. Again, I would say read, read, read. Danna Korn's book Gluten Free Living for Dummies was where I started and it was very helpful since I was starting from scratch.

If you decide to order some books, you might consider adding Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain and a GAPS diet book (Natasha Campbell-McBride), to perhaps bundle some shipping. These are diets that seem to work well for gluten-free folks.

Feel free to message me directly if you have a question, since I do not check the board every day...Good luck!

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Thanks for the advice. No, the doc didn't test anything apart from T3, T4 and TSH. He seemed to think I was crazy even for getting him to test those!

I've now been gluten free for a week and I'm already noticing some improvement in terms of bowel movements. Lymph nodes are still swollen although possibly less painful, so I think for the moment I'm just going to stick with it and see how things go. Will look into other doctors but as I'm not feeling too bad and the hyperthyroidism is still "within normal range" (just), I might hang on until we go home as I really don't want to go through the whole doctor-search nightmare twice!

Welcome to the board! I am sorry to hear you are going through this but you have landed in a community of caring people, all excellent resources, any many with first-hand experience. There can indeed be a connection between thyroid problems and Celiac. In fact, you don't need to be Celiac, you can be just gluten-sensitive and that is enough to trigger the auto-immune response necessary to jam up the thyroid.

First thing I would recommend is not to dismiss your intuition, even if professionals of the medical community try to minimize what you are experiencing. There are good doctors out there who "get it" and will work with you as a partner, although it can be a challenge to find one. First step is to get a good MD (one who gets it) on your team, preferably an endocrinologist or internist, preferably board certified, preferably "integrative" (not solely a western medical approach). You may have to kiss a few toads... I am not trying to be alarmist but hyperthyroidism is serious so make sure you start looking for good endo MD soon in case you have to churn through a few different docs. Mary Shomon's website about.thyroid.com has a "top doctors" directory, click on http://thyroid.about.com/cs/doctors/a/topdocs.htm to check it out, perhaps there is one in Kuwait or somewhere nearby you can catch a cheap flight to.

I see you mentioned your doc tested your TSH, T3 and T4. Did he or she perform any thyroid auto-antibodies tests?

Next is read, read, read. You can do thyroid searches on this board and learn a ton, about your symptoms, vitamins, different diets, anatomy, lab tests, etc. There is also a good book by Mary Shomon, "Living Well With Graves' Disease and Hyperthyroidism". It will give you quite a bit of good info and I think the book is only $10 or $15 USD, although I am not sure how much shipping to Kuwait would add. This knowledge will make you a better, much more discerning patient once you do find a doctor, I guarantee it.

Then there is gluten, nasty insidious gluten. It is everywhere, even in naturally gluten-free foods though something called cross-contamination. And based on your description of your symptoms, gluten may soon become your new number one enemy as it is for so many here. There are many others here on the board that actually have Celiac and are much more qualified than I am to give you the best way to get started there with determining your sensitivity. Again, I would say read, read, read. Danna Korn's book Gluten Free Living for Dummies was where I started and it was very helpful since I was starting from scratch.

If you decide to order some books, you might consider adding Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain and a GAPS diet book (Natasha Campbell-McBride), to perhaps bundle some shipping. These are diets that seem to work well for gluten-free folks.

Feel free to message me directly if you have a question, since I do not check the board every day...Good luck!

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The problem with going gluten-free on your own is that you cannot be tested for celiac without a 2-3 month gluten challenge. You may find that you are disinclined to eat gluten again if you feel better on the diet.

Hyperthyroidism can resolve on its own and going gluten-free may really help. If it isn't too hard I'd suggest also eliminating dairy for a time. Gluten and casein are sister proteins and both seem to be able to contribute to autoimmunity.

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