Help please with chronic digestion issues. - Thyroid UK

Thyroid UK
108,107 members125,449 posts

Help please with chronic digestion issues.

JanieJ
JanieJ

Hi all, it is worrying reading all the posts on here on how difficult it is to get help when you are feeling rubbish. I am really struggling to get my good health back and wonder if anyone here has any suggestions.

I have had an underactive thyroid diagnosed when I was 11, some 47 years ago and was successfully treated for most of that time latterly on levothyroxine 250mcg but when I hit my 50's and the menopause I was told I was being over compensated and the dose lowered and I am now on 100 mcg. Since then I have not felt like myself and apart from really struggling with anxiety and stress, which haas affected my health, I am now suffering dreadfully with digestion issues and what I believe could be gallbladder problems. I have had a scan but am told I don't have stones. However, I have suffered pain under my right rib, have been diagnosed with a fatty liver, although I rarely drink and do not eat a fatty diet, I only weigh about 8st 4lbs. I also now have about 20 fatty lumps, which I am told is not uncommon! In addition I suffer dreadfully with stomach acid, bloating and general discomfort. I have had numerous blood tests and scans and am due to have a endoscopy on Wednesday. I take digestive enzymes, liver support supplements, betaine etc to no avail. Everything I eat seems to upset me and I eat virtually no fats, no sugar or dairy.

I have read that thyroid disorders can affect the gallbladder and liver and I wonder if anyone here has any info regarding this. I have all the latest blood results which are numerous, and am told all are ok, including liver and if anything I am still being over compensated with levo but when I reduced it to 75mcg, I felt worse. I wonder should I do or see anyone else to help me get back on track?

Many thanks in advance for your time in reading this.

34 Replies
oldestnewest

Janiej, You're doing the right things to cope with digestion issues from low stomach acid from what I can see. I hope the endoscopy will make clear the reason for your discomfort.

If you can post your recent thyroid results with the lab ref ranges members will be able to advise whether you are optimally medicated.

JanieJ
JanieJ
in reply to Clutter

Hi clutter many thanks for you reply.

The results in Sept 14 were: TSH 2.34 ( 0.35 - 4.94) and 0.01 same range in December 14.

T3 in July was 4.36 (2.63 - 5.70) Ferratin 164 (20.00 - 204.00), Vit D in June 85.9 (80.00 - 150.00)

Are there any other tests I should be having? I'm due to have more bloods done tomorrow but I think they are general to check liver function again and iron etc.

I have heard that digestive issues can be not enough acid but I do get burning sensation which I though was too much acid?

Many thanks again for your help.

Clutter
Clutter
in reply to JanieJ

Janie, Dec TSH 0.01 is suppressed but without testing your FT4 and FT3 to check they aren't over range your GP really shouldn't rely on TSH to decide you are overmedicated.

July ferritin and vitD were good, but vitD drops Oct-Apr because of lack of sunlight so you might consider supplementing 2,000iu vitD3 softgel capsules or spray until end of April.

Burning reflux can be due to low and high stomach acid. The endoscopy shoud show whether there is inflammation due to high acid.

JanieJ
JanieJ
in reply to Clutter

Many thanks Clutter, I'll ask for the tests for FT4 and FT3 and post the results here. Are there any other tests I should have? My GP is happy to leave the dose as it is as she feels I am happier on the higher dose. I still have symptoms which I believe indicate under medication, tiredness, hair loss and eyebrows, feeling cold etc

I also read somewhere that if you are on levo too long that can also cause problems? I seem to remember being put on levo in my 20's presumably on non synthetic before that.

Many thanks again.

Clutter
Clutter
in reply to JanieJ

Janie, I have heard anecdotally that Levothyroxine doesn't work as well after a few years but have not seen research to support it. There is a member whose wife has been on Levothyroxine 45 years and is well as long as her dose isn't interfered with. If your FT3 is low you may benefit from the addition of some some T3 added to a reduced dose of Levothyroxine.

Ask for vitD, ferritin, B12 and folate to be retested as it is some time since they were done.

That sounds miserable for you. If you feel like writing about what you do eat, somebody who has had similar problems (like me!) might be able to make more targeted suggesions. For example grains, whole or processed, can wreak havoc on the digestive system, despite what many doctors and nutritionists say. If you eat those I'd really consider cutting them out for a week and seeing what happens. You might be surprised. FWIW my mother had a fatty liver, switched her diet to something similar to Atkins and now no longer has that condition (verified before and after with scans).

JanieJ
JanieJ
in reply to jdke

Many thanks for your message jdke. I can usually eat most things when I am feeling well but when I get extra stressed as I seem to now which I don't understand as I've always led a stressed life but my body seems unable to cope with it now, then my stomach seems to react and then everything aggravates me. I love to eat fruit and salads and vegetables but fruit reacts at the moment. I can no longer drink tea or coffee which I was able to last year, albeit decaffeinated tea or rooibos. Now I mosty drink water. Virtually no dairy. I usually have porridge with a banana for breakfast or when I can tolerate it fruit and yoghurt. I have cut out all sugars, and most fats, biscuits, cake. I eat fish, salmon and white fish, chicken, turkey, prawns and some vegetarian products. Gluten free bread. I love nuts and seeds but have cut back on these. I drink rice milk or oat milk with the porridge. Does this help? I am hoping to reverse the fatty liver issue and its encouraging that your mother has been successful in this.

Thanks again for your help it is much appreciated.

shaws
shawsAdministrator
in reply to JanieJ

I take Betaine with pepsin tablets with each meal (my bottle says no more than 3 times a day) and found they solved my problem. I also take a little organic apple cider vinegar in water too.

stopthethyroidmadness.com/s...

I would ask for the addition of some T3 to be added to a reduced T4, you might find this makes you feel much, much better. They don't test your Free T3 and you may be very low in your T3 which is the Active hormone needed by our receptor cells. Sometimes T4 doesn't convert sufficiently.

This link may be helpful:

web.archive.org/web/2010103...

Gemini71
Gemini71
in reply to shaws

Hi Shaws, I suffer chronic IBS, and I remember reading at some time that cider vinegar could help. My question is when do you take it before food,once a day ect ect. I also have an Underactive Thyroid besides other health issues,so would it be alright to take with other medication. 1more question how often should you have Thyroid blood tests.

shaws
shawsAdministrator
in reply to Gemini71

I think it's best to take it before or after food. I listened to one of these topics the other day and he recommended taking it throughout the day.

healthygutsummit.com/asfvge...

You have to register to hear these topics. They are about an hour each and I realise we cannot listen to them all. The ones I have have been interesting and you might find one of them useful to listen to. It's obvious there must be thousands with problems.

Gemini71
Gemini71
in reply to shaws

Thanks Shaws, how often should you have a thyroid blood test ?

shaws
shawsAdministrator
in reply to Gemini71

Once you are on an optimum dose (you feel well) it's usually done once a year.

If you don't feel well and have clinical symptoms coming back ask for one.

If newly diagnosed, should be every 6 weeks with an increase till you feel well, not until your TSH is 'within normal range'. We can have a TSH 1 or below.

JanieJ
JanieJ
in reply to shaws

I can second your suggestion Shaws of listening to the healthygutsummit topics. I have just listened to the first one and found it very interesting and informative.

Low stomach acid can cause heartburn. There's a good explanation here

stopthethyroidmadness.com/s...

and an explanation of how to test whether that is your problem.

Non alcoholic fatty liver disease is nat caused by too much fat in the diet, far from it. Its caused by too much starch and sugar, and especially fructose. Its often part of a syndrome called Metabolic Syndrome, or Syndrome X, where usually there is also heart disease and insulin resistance present. Its just luck which bit hits you.

Probably the first thing to do would be to cut out gluten, and as much as you can, cut down on starches and sugars. Its not an easy change to make, it took me around three years to do it completely. You will need to eat extra fat (which isn't bad after all) to make up for the lost calories. Don't fall into the low fat trap, most so-called low fat products are full of sugar to give them taste!

JanieJ
JanieJ
in reply to Ruthi

Hi Ruthi,

Many thanks for your message.

It is interesting the low stomach acid suggestion as I noticed that when I had apple cider vinegar for the suspected gall bladder pain my stomach seemed more settled. I don't have much sugar as a rule ie no sugar laced cereals, very little in foods if at all, only when I used to eat cake and biscuits, but what about sugars in fruit? I love fruit when I can tolerate it and usually eat a variety of different fruits as well as dried? What about the starch in some vegetables is that ok? Hopefully my heart is ok, my cholesterol is low and I have been tested for insulin resistance and am ok there too.

Which fats do you recommend taking? I only eat healthy fats at the moment ie avocado and only some nuts and coconut oil etc.

Many thanks again for your help.

Spareribs
SpareribsAdministrator
in reply to JanieJ

Just a thought or two - try eating regularly what your gran ate - usually meat & 2 veg.

Avoid bread 'tho - today's can have 5x more gluten (glue) in - yet apparently wheat intolerance is much more common than gluten trouble.

It's strange (but well-reported) how cider vinegar helps indigestion- took my hubby a while to try a teaspoonful in water - now his indigestion has gone (cillit bang!) no more rolling round floor or trips to A&E!

It's all in the news now (at long last - 40 years fashion turn?) that butter is actually good & natural, also olive oil, avocado, coconut & bird food etc. (long-chain fats) - our brains are made of fat - cholesterol! It's just oil for the engine not the poison (sugar).

J :D

gabkad
gabkad
in reply to Spareribs

and potatoes. :) Good source of protein it is, in truth.

JanieJ
JanieJ
in reply to gabkad

Thanks gabkad, love potatoes, sweet potatoes as well which are great for you.

JanieJ
JanieJ
in reply to Spareribs

Many thanks Sparerib for the info, I have been eating gluten free bread, although I read earlier that it still can contain some? But I'll give it a miss for a good while and see if that helps. The oils you suggest are the ones I use. The one thing that has really amazed me is that weight I have lost since giving up sugar and biscuits and cakes. Although not over weight I had put on the pounds which I has struggled to loose but they just fell off once I stopped having anything with sugar in.

I'm a little unsure what to eat at the moment as if I eat fats it might start of the gallbladder symptoms and yet some of the things that are good for the gallbladder upset my stomach.

Hopefully, tomorrow will shed some light on what is going on, although I have had one before am still feeling nervous about it all :-/

A low fat diet is not a healthy diet, despite doctors saying it for the last few decades. If you eliminate fat, sugar and dairy, what is your body supposed to use for energy? Fat is the best source of energy the body and brain can have and your body needs it.

Have a look around the following three sites :

Zoe Harcombe : zoeharcombe.com/

Dr Malcolm Kendrick : drmalcolmkendrick.org/

highsteaks.com/

Zoe Harcombe is interested in obesity, diet and nutrition. Dr Kendrick likes blowing away all the nonsense that is talked about cholesterol and heart disease. I think you'll find them rather interesting. The high steaks site covers loads of nutrition, diet and health stuff and, despite the casual style used, it has links to lots of research papers.

massao
massao
in reply to humanbean

Totally agree. I'm currently studying to be a nutritionist so fat is necessary to function properly! Every body cell contains cholesterol, and out bodies make 85% of it, so not much comes from the diet. Carbs is what you should avoid, especially complex ones. Maybe ask your doc to do cholesterol panel, and check your sex hormones levels.

JanieJ
JanieJ
in reply to massao

Hi thanks Massao for the comments.

I have had my cholesterol checked and it is low but am unsure if it is relevant to have my sex hormones checked if I am post menopause?

JanieJ
JanieJ
in reply to humanbean

Many thanks for your comments Humanbean, I shall definitely look up the sites you have recommended. I am really interested in the topics they cover so I am sure I will find them useful and interesting.

As already mentioned I don't believe I have that much of an unhealthy diet fat wise. I usually use olive oil, coconut oil, butter in moderation and when my digestion allows nuts, oily fish etc

Hi,janie,

It might be worth looking at info on "leaky gut",and following food recommendations for healing this problem.It certainly shouldn't do any harm..I have been told this sort of problem is all interlinked with thyroid dysfunction..

I am a believer in finding healthy foods and/or supplements to help heal the many problems our thyroid condition throws up at us.. and I have a very supportive doctor who explains as much as he knows, encourages self help as well as medical support..very lucky to find him,I wish many of you out there had one like him,so many doctors are just not interested..good luck

it might also be worth looking up foods that help make your body alkiline,because your body needs a good balance of acid and alkiline,(leaning towards alkiline) to be healthy

JanieJ
JanieJ
in reply to malimali

Thanks Malimali, I have wondered about 'leaky gut' would this show up during an endoscopy do you think? Its great to hear of your supportive doctor, I 'm still working on that one but hopeful that I will get there in the end. I also prefer all things healthy when I can and take supplements and also see a homeopath, which has been very helpful in the past but unfortunately she retired and the two I have tried since have not had as much success. However, I keep on trying.

I will try the alkaline suggestion and see if that helps, to some extent its all trial and error I find,

Thanks again for the info and best wishes, both much appreciated.

JanieJ, I have made a similar situation much better as follows:

I did try Betaine but it made my stomach ache much worse, so it now sits on the shelf unused.

I bought some Swanson Oregano in capsules (450g) and took one three times a day with food.

I bought some Jarrow Formulas Mastic gum, and took two capsules each day before breakfast.

I started taking a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in a glass of water once a day (at least an hour away from meals) I also put in a tablet of effervescent vitamin C with it.

I have porridge for breakfast made with milk and water, sweetened with a 1/4 teaspoon of fruitrose.

My midday meal is mainly raw vegetables with cheese, houmous, or Quorn. I will have one slice of wholemeal bread, or a packet of oatcakes as well.

My evening meal is mainly vegetables (steamed preferably in a pressure cooker). I have cut down on potatoes, avoid pasta, and hardly eat much rice.

I only drink Redbush tea, or a coffee substitute called 'whole earth wake up' or water.

My stomach is now fine after just 8 weeks of that regime. I no longer need the Omprazole, and I don't get acid reflux or indigestion.

Note, I am on ERFA, as levo doesn't work for me at all. And I take 2.5g of Jarrow Formulas Methyl B 12 each morning (under the tongue).

JanieJ
JanieJ
in reply to Hypopotamus

Thanks so much for all the info, are these all easily obtainable? I would definitely be interested in giving them a try.

I am also interested in the fact that you are on ERFA. Who has prescribed this. I am considering asking my GP to try me on this as I have read that after being on levo for a long time it can become ineffective and cause damage.

Many thanks.

Hypopotamus
Hypopotamus
in reply to JanieJ

I got the Oregano and Mastic gum through Amazon.

Your GP will not prescribe ERFA nor any other NDT. You must get a referral to an endocrinologist, and hope that you can persuade them to let you try some. They will probably want you to try liothyronine (T3) first though. I think there is a list somewhere around this forum that tells us which endos are sympathetic to prescribing NDT.

JanieJ
JanieJ
in reply to Hypopotamus

Many thanks, I will see what happens after the endoscopy this afternoon and when I go back to the GP for the follow up, I will ask to try T3 first and I think also referral to an endo as I am anxious to get my health back in track.

Have you been tested for H.Pylori? Candida?

I've had digistive problems since the early '70s. In 1997 I was found positive for H.Pylori & treated. That eased symptoms a lot, but I've still got problems & have now tested positive for Candida overgrowth. It's taking a long while to get it sorted but I'm on the way.

Apparently fatty liver can be caused by endocrine disruptors like plastics, glyphosate weedkiller, any GMO, etc and sugars.

Use probiotics, avoid makeup and most personal care products (unless organic etc), avoid tins and plastic containers and Teflon. Don't eat much fructose.

You need to eat fat to keep the gall bladder working correctly, so a low fat diet is not a good idea unless the gall bladder is already too messed up to save. Plus a low fat diet is usually (not always) a high sugar diet (and alcohol is just sugar).

Many thanks for the info.

I am an avid GMO avoider but find it so hard to find out if foods contain any. I see modified...and always assume it is genetic. The same goes for Rapeseed, nearly everything you buy has rapeseed in it and I believe this to be one products this is massively GMO. So I now try to avoid anything that includes these and basically as Sparerib said I try to eat as my grandparents did, Making as much as possible form scratch, natural and where available and affordable, organic.

When you sat fructose, what form does this come in?

Apparently there are no stones in my gallbladder but I have had mild discomfort on and off for some years but two painful bouts last year but still they say no stones!?

Fructose comes in fruit, fruit juice and many other sweet things, including savoury sauces - read ingredients list. Apparently you can have too much actual fruit.

Hi, all you lovely people who give so much help and good advice which is much appreciated.

I've now had the endoscopy which has shown that I have mild duodenitis. He said again that I am being over replaced with T4.

Had intended to see the GP for is the senior partner but regretfully he has unexpectedly today gone on unknown leave time. Another young GP rang to discuss the results who I don't see regularly and who I wouldn't have chosen to talk to.

I told her that the duodenitis could be as a result of bile and that the gastroenterologist suggested that the thyroid dose was incorrect and that this could cause gastric problems, that it had been suggest here that I ask for a reduced dose of T4 and some T3 but she flatly refused to consider this saying it was the practice do this. That I needed to take a reduced dose for 2 months at least before an endo would see me. She also didn't agree to my having the extra blood tests done.

I have told her I would like to see an endo which she has said she would refer me privately.

What are all your thoughts please? Should I have the extra bloods done privately, or go back and see a different doctor and ask for them to done. Should I go see a private endo or wait the two months on reduced T4 and then ask to be referred on the NHS? Or wait for the other GP to come back off leave (I guess something awful has happened in his family)?

My digestion is rubbish, it seems whatever I eat upsets me and the pain in my right hand side was very evident last night, although as I said before I have been scanned and they say there are no gall stones.

Incidentally, she rubbished sites such as these as well as Thyroid.uk saying that the medical profession is very concerned at all the info available on the internet, mostly false!

As always your knowledge and expertise would be much appreciated. Many thanks :-)

You may also like...