PBC Foundation
6,303 members5,571 posts

Thymus gland

I'm starting a course soon, to study Aromatherapy because I want to work for myself on "my" terms. The course includes study of Anatomy & Physiology! So I've been busy looking into A&P in preparation and came across the Thymus Gland. It's the gland responsible for the immune system, it makes an interesting read if you google it!

It caught my attention because of where it's situated in the chest!

For 18 months now I've had pain and discomfort in that area, and I've also had a cough for the same length of time which my steroid inhaler is not helping at all... it got me thinking whether or not my cough and pain is my thymus gland.

Non of the doctors I've seen so far have even thought about it!

I'm probably over reacting, but I'm fed up of them saying it's costochondritis, it hurts when I inhale right in that area just under the sternum, and only gets worse over time!

I wheeze at night and cough all the time, and it's not my asthma, well I don't think it is anyway.

I think I'll mention to my doc next time I see her

Thanks for reading my rant, I've finished now!


7 Replies

Our daughter has asthma, but for several months a few years ago she had a persistant cough which nothing would shift. Then for some reason, pregnancy I think, she had a full blood count and her iron stores were nil!!! worse than dangerous, if that is possible. That was dealt with and the cough has never come back. Now with PBC and Scleroderma I am suffering from malabsorption and have problems keeping my iron stores up. Just something for you to think about.

1 like

Apparently one of the signs of low iron is shortness of breath and also you can get palpitations. I tend to have a slightly lower iron count (back in Dec I had a 2 months course of iron even though mine were coming up normal but a low normal). The GP wasn't concerned due to the fact I was experiencing no symptons at all of anaemia as I wasn't. I know back in 2010 when I was quite short of iron and was itching and fatigued I was finding myself short of breath when I was out walking. I haven't felt like that now for over 3 yrs (diagnosed Dec 2010 with PBC).

There are a lot of hormones in the system. I wasn't aware until recently that we have an hormone gland situated behind the thyroid gland called the hyperthyroid. This is responsible for regulating fluids in the body. My sister was recently diagnosed with diabetes insipidus as her salt levels are continually imbalancing. Hers was more than likely caused by brain surgery so hopefully it is temporary as it can be a permanent condition.


Yes I get short of breath and palpitations and extreme fatigue when my iron is low. I had an infusion on 18 December when my level was 20 since then I have had 368 in January, 85 in February, 55 in March, 32 in April 2 weeks ago or so and this week I am had, it so going to get another test tomorrow. It seems they won't do an infusion until you are 20 or lower and I can't wait to get another although it costs $250 a pop. Can't tolerate oral therapy because of systemic scleroderma messing up my bowel so haven't any choice. Hospitals don't do infusions any more here and the medication itself is not funded so that is why it costs so much.


Hello judyt.

I think that your mention of infusion for iron means blood transfusion here in England. My sister had one over a decade ago when she collapsed in the street due to very low iron levels.

I'm in peri-menopause and last year my cycle developed a different pattern which were to my advantage. Recently they have started to space out that bit further. I am hoping that once I do reach menopause and no longer experience a monthly cycle my iron levels are preserved more.

I have been having a one point below normal reading of the HB since 2010 the year of diagnosis and I did read that that can be normal for women in particular, the body adjusts. I noticed that mine wasn't that much better after a short course of iron tablets end of last year/early 2014. But as I'm not experiencing any problems with breathlessness nor even fatigue these days (I do get tired later afternoon if not ha a good night's sleep due to the itch), it isn't of much concern at all.


I've had Myasthenia Gravis which is an autoimmune disease involving the thymus gland and have had the gland removed. You would not have any pain from the thymus gland in your chest so I suggest that you see your doctor about the cough and the pain.


Hi swmartin

My doctor is trying me with a steroid inhaler, which has helped the cough but not illuminated it. I've had a chest X-ray which is clear!

The pain around my sternum area is a problem, it hurts when I inhale, and as done for a couple of years now. I took gastro tablets for ages but that didn't help at all, just made pain in stomach worse. I'm at a loss as to what it might be, think my doctor is too.

Thanks for your response x


My gastroenterologist DX'd me two months ago with costochondritis,during my last visit. I kept telling him that my liver often hurts and he claims that often PBC and liver diseases are silent causing little or no pain. (I certainly beg to differ and thus far, is the only thing I don't agree on with my doc.) Anyway, he felt where the pain was and based on my description 'that my skin feels like it is being pinched and I want to reach up under my rib and pull it loose', he said it is costochondritis, I also have the same 'chest' pain under the sternum you referenced. Well, at least it just comes and goes and isn't a constant. So many symptoms!

1 like

You may also like...