Fluid Retention

Eeeeek. This is bad. This is history repeating itself and I desperately need help as this is thee most likely thing to see me back on the cigs. Over the last couple of weeks I've noticed my foot getting a little bit swollen. Now my engagement ring threatens to cut off my blood supply. I have suffered this problem before for a long time. I think this was why I decided to stop smoking the last time I attempted to quit because all I could come up with as a cause was COPD. I didn't have COPD and in the end after being given Diuretics which didn't work, and having many blood tests including tests for diabetes I went to see my GP yet again. As luck would have it he was old and experienced, he looked at my shaking hands, he listened to my racing heart and he looked at my alarming blood results which said I had a very overactive thyroid and he referred me to a consultant. My then elephant sized ankles and feet were so bad and itched madly with some weird rash all over them that the consultant sent me to the hospital photographer to have photo's taken of my feet. Within just a couple of weeks of taking Carbimazole my poorly swollen feet and ankles that I'd suffered with for months and months went down to a normal size and I have never suffered from swollen feet until now.

I don't have any other symptoms at the moment of thyroid problems other than the unexplained water retention but why does stopping smoking trigger all this. It's exactly the same as last time, although I already had quite bad odema in my feet and ankles by the time I got to three months of stopping smoking it had escalated to the state where I could hardly walk, was breathless, had blurred vision and my heart would race for no reason. I started smoking again because I was so stressed out, mainly because no one knew what was wrong with me. The smoking made matters worse. It would make me shake more, I wouldn't be able to see properly for 10 minutes after having a cigarette. I was getting weird gold flashing lights in the corners of my eyes and strange holes in my vision. Was a very scary time and stopping smoking seemed to be the start of it all, though starting again definitely made things worse until I started with the Carbimazole treatment which I was on for 18 months. All this was about 5 years ago and I've been fine for the last 3 years without any thyroid treatment. Now I've stopped smoking again it all seems to be starting again. Sorry to chat on but I am absolutely convinced now that by the time I get to three months in without smoking all the symptoms start up. It's as if stopping smoking triggers my thyroid problems.

10 Replies

  • PS, I forgot to mention that because I can't even get through to my Doctors let alone get an appointment I tried googling water retention and smoking cessation last night. There were people who mentioned on NHS Choices that people over 50 seem to have more problems with smoking cessation, they also mentioned water retention and auto immune diseases (I think Graves disease comes under an auto immune disease) flaring up after stopping smoking but didn't discuss it any further.

  • Hi Sinfree,

    Your right, Graves is autoimmune, i have under active thyroid, also autoimmune, I'm not sure why smoking affects the thyroid this way but i know it does, in made my THS level go up and my thyroxine was put up

    can i ask, why are you not on any tablets for this anymore, that seems very strange to me, usually people are on the meds for life

    It's terrible that you can't get through to your doctor, but i think you should keep trying, hopefully they know all about the thyroid, then you can hopefully set your mind at rest, i don't know too much about graves but if you want to pm me i can let you know about some brilliant groups you could join who would really help you,

    please try not to worry too much, it might not get that bad again,

    Take care, Sue xxxx

  • Hi Sue, sorry it took so long to reply, been busy day today as it's my daughters birthday tomorrow. Well took first step today and went to sign on at a different GP practice. We've been with ours for 25 years and never had cause for complaint, unfortunately about 3 years ago they moved into a brand new purpose built "wellbeing centre" and its been downhill ever since. It seems to be a standard 2 weeks to get an appointment or phone up every morning until you get a cancellation, that's if you can get through, if not it's a 3 or 4 mile trek to go to the surgery just to make an appointment.

    I understand with an underactive thyroid you have to take thyroxin for good. However an overactive thyroid is treated initially with Carbimazole tablets for around 18 months as I was. Once the thyroid levels become balanced as far as I can recall the dosage is gradually reduced with regular testing to see how the body is coping at regulating the levels unaided. I was always told that a relapse is possible. This is why I'm panicking. Carbimazole isn't a long term solution. I think the next step is either to try Radioactive Iodine or surgery to remove most of the thyroid gland. My mum had her thyroid removed when she was in her mid 40's. She never smoked. My mum's mum also had a goitre but never suffered any symptoms - she smoked. I am wondering if with an overactive thyroid that smoking suppresses the amount of thyroxin the gland produces so it's only when I stop smoking that it goes into overdrive. My mum on the other hand didn't smoke and eventually it was recommended that she had surgery to remove it.

    Having spent ages online last night on all sorts of websites it would appear that the cyanide (!!!) in cigarette smoke reacts with some other naturally occurring chemical in the body and its something to do with this reaction that links smoking and thyroid problems. It seems smoking tends to mask the condition more than anything.

  • Hi Sinfree, i had a look and i think your right,smoking does suppress the thyroxine, but as have sadly seen with your mum, there's no definite reason for surgery, your mum never smoked but still had to have it removed. I know this is easier said than done, but try not to worry too much, hopefully your new gp Will be clued up on the thyroid and will be able to put your mind at rest.

    You might be okay this time, just keep an eye out for any other symptoms, you might just need to go back on your meds for a short time, are you on any support sites for this, if so there's bound to be people on there who been where you are now, they'd be able to help you, i don't know a lot about this as i have under active thyroid.

    Maybe go see your new gp, but please don't let it put you off stopping smoking, you can do this, i'll help you all i can, as will everyone else :)

    I hope your daughter has a brilliant Happy Birthday tomorrow :) xx

  • I think it`s different strokes for different folks.

    When I stopped this time I kept getting blood bubbles in my mouth and I felt really ill.

    That is now improving but I know how stressful and down in the dumps I felt.

    This community helped a lot in getting me through and I know it will help you to be in touch with sympathetic helpful people on this site.

    But I do think you should pursue your doctor more vigorously if for no other reason than to take the anxiety this is causing you away, this is not helpful when you are trying to quit smoking to improve your health.

    It is really poor that you are having difficulty in getting an appointment with your doctor.

    As Sue has said, people are usually on thyroid treatment for life!. So I also don't understand why you are off treatment.

    A support group would be an excellent option for you so please do get in touch with Sue.


  • Hi Tom thanks. Sounds like you suffered quite a lot with your mouth. I know what you mean, when you stop smoking you expect to feel better not worse, it can be very discouraging sometimes. As I said to Sue above the treatment is a bit different for an overactive thyroid, although having said that once a person has had radioactive Iodine treatment or surgery then they usually are on medication for life. My mum has had to take calcium tablets ever since she had surgery to remove her thyroid.

  • Hey there, it really is important that you get an appointment with your GP and explain all of your concerns, that you have stopped smoking and when you quit last time almost the same happened to you then.

    You've already said it and are intelligent enough to know that to go back to smoking will jst make matters worse and chances are a lot more other ailments and health issues will head your way.

    You've come so far and we'll help support you all the way :-)

  • Hi EmJay. I know you're right. Even after I said to my husband I'm not going back to all that thyroid stuff again I may as well smoke I knew I would have to be desperate to do that. The frustration lies with the fact that last time I tried to stop smoking I just knew it was the stopping that started off all the symptoms. The fluid retention in my feet had been going on for about 3 years prior to me stopping smoking, it just seemed to get really bad once I stopped. It took well over two years to get someone to find out why I was suffering from the fluid retention. The reason I'm concerned is that when I was seeing the consultant and he was trying to persuade me to stop smoking again he was very sceptical that it was stopping smoking that had actually started it all off in the first place. Yet there is so much on line that it seems to be common knowledge amongst the medical profession that smoking does have an effect on thyroid function so therefore stopping smoking must also have an effect.

  • Hi sinfree, Thanks for the feedback from you.

    You sound quite informed and have an understanding of what`s what.

    Half the battle is knowing 1/ you enemy, 2/ the drive to beat that enemy and I think that inside, you are capable of success.

    It always seems to me that those who shout the loudest get the most, that being so, give your surgery/ clinic HELL till they get you an appointment, then be like a dog with a bone till they get to the bottom of the problem.

    It is your health and you have the right to be treated as royalty.

    Emjay has rightly said that to go back smoking will make matters worse and may cause more ailments to come your way, but also the feeling of failure and then the agony of going through the whole stop smoking thing AGAIN, It`s just not worth it after already making the first steps.

    I wish you all the very best in your quest, and will pray for you.

    We are all here, anytime you feel down, or just want to chat, just give the keys a tap.


  • PS................ You are right about the problems with my mouth, My wife is for ever saying " see you and your mouth" !!. Although I don't think she means the same problem as I was talking about.


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