can giving up smoking after 37 years

i gave up smoking end of dec last year, am wondering if it common for people who have quit smoking recently to discover they have a thyroid problem i.e. under active thyroid, it was only after 2 months that all my symptoms started, i will never smoke again , but up until stoping smoking i was only sleeping around 4\5 hours a night .

32 Replies

Yes. There is a definite link between quitting smoking and the onset of hypothyroidism. It seems to trigger it in susceptible individuals. I can't find the paper on this at the moment but I will see if I can later :)

Carolyn x

thank you , look forward to reading it x

I too believe that giving up has an effect - whether that is causing hypothyroidism, or unmasking existing hypothyroidism, or something else - it ends up that we see a lot of people whose stories imply a connection. Including my own. Possibly.

By the way, if you use "Reply to this" the person you are responding to gets an alert email which helps them to realise you have responded. :-)


thank you , am sure thats whats happening to me , gone tho the menopause , now I've had a period , and started with hot flushes and lots of different symptoms again, x so fed up .

Well that sent me an alert! :-)

Here it is

It suggests that antithyroid antibodies may increase on quitting smoking and that this is the cause for the increased risk of hypothyroidism. It is not clear, however, whether those antibodies would have been high if a person had never smoked and the smoking was just suppressing them.

I was diagnosed 3 months after giving up smoking, looking back I think that smoking masked the severity of the symptoms my tsh was 100 and ft4 was 0 on diagnosis but I think the symptoms had been there for many years x

Me too! I was diagnosed about 6 months after stopping smoking, although I'd had symptoms for years (but 'normal' bloods) It was only then that my TSH came back at 50.8 and FT4 0. K.

wow 50 tsh? yep smoking lowers TSH (don't have a fag before a test) those little nicotine receptors in every cell object! but why are they there? I believe the actual problem is niacin (vit B3 or lack of it) so-called as to distance it from nasty nicotine - makes you wonder why folks smoke eh? (but quitting is a good thing - well done, maybe Multi B vits will help) J x

Hi! Well, that's a bit of a sore point at the moment, lol! I've recently moved home to Scotland and saw my new Endo on 1st July. He said that my Vit B12 was OK, 'in range' at 671 (180-900). I told him that at diagnosis in September 12 it was 160, so I've been supplementing (quite heavily) ever since. GP had supplied 25mcg cyancobalamin tablets at the time and told me to take twice a day. After getting advice on here, I took 5mg methyl tabets most days. He asked why my old GP in Wales hadn't just given me B12 injections 'and be done with it' - I told him I'd asked, but he'd refused. Sooooo, Endo said he'd like me to stop all supplements (also taking Selenium, Vit D, magnesium) and come in for blood tests on 16 August, (together with Short Synacthen test), to see what my 'true' B12 levels are. At the same appt he said to decrease my T4 from 150 to 100mcg and increase T3 from 20 to 30mcg. So although I really didn't want to, I did as he intructed and stopped my supplements. In short, I feel lousy and am back to sleeping 16 hours a day (most of the day on the sofa) and joint and thigh pains are horrendous again, where I'm scared to go upstairs as I have to pull myself up using the banisters. Am now wishing the Summer away, waiting for blood test on 16th, so I can get back on my supplements... Sorry ... Have hijacked this post! Kxx

If stopping smoking adversely affects thyroid function then there surely there must be be some compound in cigarettes that aids thyroid function. Would it not be possible to isolate what this is and add this is thyro. medication. It might even be paper used. I don't know what everyone thinks but the info. we have is too vague and needs looking into properly.

I think it's more to do with the fact that the body has got used to what it is receiving and, when it doesn't have it any more, it is at greater risk of developing hypothyroidism. I also wonder if the smoking is somehow masking an underlying thyroid disease. I had symptoms long before quitting smoking but my levels were borderline. After I quit, I had overt hypothyroidism. I am fairly sure I was developing it anyway but the quitting was the trigger.

The research shows it is those who are susceptible to developing hypothyroidism anyway that are at increased risk. I don't think it is the same for those who are not inherently susceptible.

Nicotine affects adrenal function. Perhaps that is why quitting then triggers the hypothyroidism

for me when i quit over ten years ago -a noticeable change in my thyroid was apparent and blood tests agreed, but symptoms said a change was happening weight gain etc.etc.but to me the major change was the stress levels i was always calm when smoking had lo blood pressure & energy galore-i feel my adrenals suffered because of stressors-apart from stopping smoking--and i had no calming mechanism at all, blood pressure way up, weight gain and loads of adrenal & thyroid symptoms-i had always taken many vitamins and ate well-- just the stress increased so for me i say, adrenals and then thyroid are compromised from lack of coping mechanism ( smoking) that's truth in my case.. but i won't smoke again ! now i eat to cope sad to say

This is exactly it. It's people who are already susceptible to hypothyroidism, and who may well have developed it at some stage anyway, who are at increased risk of developing it when stopping smoking. You were probably borderline hypothyroid before quitting and then quitting caused it to properly develop! Sometimes the quitting smoking is the thing that finally gets you a diagnosis and treatment; at least that's what happened to me :)

Hi, I stopped smoking three years ago after smoking for thirty years and within months my thyriod had packed in, I think there is evidence that smoking suppresses your tsh and keeps your metabolism going, I am well now but it has taken two years to get well, I know someone who went back to smoking as she could not cope with the underactive thyroid, read as much as you can and ask as many questions, I think optimising my vitamins was the major thing in getting well, also accepting that I have a disorder and going easy on myself.

Suppressing TSH wouldn't keep your metabolism going though. It would reduce your output of thyroid hormones but, yes, nicotine does suppress TSH :)

omg so there is a link ,and why can't someone look at the evidence that there something in a cig or paper ,tip, that smoking holds back for how long the under active thyroid . sorry to heard some people are having a hard time like me, and can i ask lila2 if her friend is any better for smoking, was thinking maybe using a patch x

Really not a good idea you need to optimise your meds and vitamins to feel good and treat yourself well xxx

Using patches won't reverse the hypothyroidism and it would probably have developed anyway. It is susceptible people who tend to develop hypothyroidism when quitting smoking; people who may well have gone on to develop it anyway. It is not a good idea to start taking nicotine again in any form. It is damaging to your adrenals which will then cause a whole host of other problems. Part of me wonders whether this is why those who quit smoking are more vulnerable.

At the end of the day, you cut your risks of so many diseases by quitting smoking.

I felt as though the Hypothyroidism was 'under control' until I stopped smoking. It then went haywire and I still don't always feel as though I have returned to a better place. Having said that I am determined not to smoke again, however if I'd known then what I know now....wonder what I would have done? Wrong way of thinking, but just being honest! Good luck in whatever you do. Liz x

just woke up lol was feeling fed up and think i was looking for the answer , yer giving up smoking made this happen [just feeling so poorly with it] read all you have said and yer , ive gave up smoking because i now i was in ill heath. i think the moon face and lots of things happening when i was smoking should of give it away, was see,ing the doctor for the other symptoms, and it was only when my friend took me to see him ,when i was passing out and it seem like i was drunk [i wasn't ] that he did blood test , and reading on here my numbers are a little high 75.74. now 63.22 thank you all for your support and hope you all have a good day x

Just a thought - it's not the giving up that causes it, it is smoking in the first place.

It's a case of the damage is revealed once the smoking is stopped. My mum gave up smoking and almost immediately she had a problem with lung congestion. Easy to blame giving up as the cause, but the truth was she had had lung congestion for donkey's years but while she was smoking it made her cough and temporarily clear the congestion.

Also interestingly I have read that smoking has been identified as a trigger for Graves' Disease and Thyroid Eye disease. I had both, being diagnosed with Graves' at the age of 13 and TED at 15. Now, I have never smoked in my whole life. Not actually true. I smoked throughout my entire childhood, because both my parents smoked and so did all their friends.

Yes, either that or smoking is masking the issue...

Hi Balla, I quit smoking May 2011, I was a hardened nicotine addict and at the age of 47, the "habit" was deeply ingrained. Soon after I quit I moved house and soon after that my son went away to uni and I "crashed" emotionally. I believe the stress was too much for me without my so called friend nicotine and I couldn't cope, my memory, anxiety and brain function was terrible. I was put on anti-depressant, it didn't help. Nearly a year after quitting smoking I was diagnosed hypo and put on Levothyroxine, I got worse and worse, new symptoms of lethargy, flipping over to hyper, stiff joints, feeling freezing one minute then hot flsuhes. Terrible anxiety, paranoia, over-reacting to noise and light ... the list is endless. I believe that smoking contributed greatly, the poor old thyroid having to deal with all the toxins in cigarettes. But also I think my personality trait, as an addict, was to bury my head in the sand, not deal with issues and repress anger and emotion. I think these contributed too. Also I ate a rubbish diet. It is now 26 months since I quit smoking and although I feel 70 not 50 I am starting to get better and I would never, never, never go back to smoking. It is not the answer. All best wishes to you on your recovery journey :) Caroline

I had smoked for forty odd years and about 19 years ago I was told that I was borderline and nothing was done and I didn't know any better. I stopped smoking 8 years ago and within 6 months I was hypo with a tsh of over 100. My weight went back down to normalish but I had started smoking again. Then 2 years ago I stopped again and am still off them but my weight has crept up again to over 12 stones. But I am not smoking and will just have to diet to get the weight off.

Jo xx

There is some information on the connection between smoking and thyroid dysfunction on the main Thyroid UK website here:

thank you x just to say my mum and brother passed away within the last 3 years , both ill together long tail , but i looked after them in there our homes , as they wanted to pass away at home so maybe the stess of it hasn't help me, x

bless you, yes my mum recently passed too, I have made a promise to quit when everything sorted, but it's my crutch for now - I did give up for 7 years, couldn't stand the sight, taste or smell then gained weight & hypo even hyper symptoms, sadly started again then 'cos of other troubles, in my stupid mind I made a choice rather than being out of control taking tranquillisers & anti-depressants the doc gave me, I chose nicotine instead (yes with added nasties now) NO WAY do I condone my behaviour or recommend it, it's just me being honest, but burying my head in the sand, for now J x

hi j , thank you for sharing that with me , sorry to hear of your loss , chin up and sailor on x

Just read this and I am wondering as I gave up smoking 5 months ago and now I have just been diagnosed with overactive thyroid .

Same here Deb I gave up smoking and diagnosed hyperthyroid 7 months later

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