Is brain fog a recognised symptom of hashimotos - Thyroid UK

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Is brain fog a recognised symptom of hashimotos


Hi All, firstly I wish u all a healthier and happier 2017 and thank all of you for your help and kindness over the years.

Could you tell me why when I was first diagnosed hypothyroid. ( long before further diagnosis of hashimotos) that I looked up symptoms and found brain fogs or words to that effect on most lists. NHS sites and other medical sites included.

So I presumed that GP 's would agree.

Yet I find over the years that GPS and even consultants look at me surprised that I have brain fogs. I even use medical wording to explain more.

Does this mean it's not an NHS recognised symptom anymore.

I apologise if the kind person who sent me a list of symptoms from latest research on people who were under treated at a cellular level I think it was.

In this list brain function was not included. Slow movement was the nearest thing.

My consultant who I am very lucky to have I know as she let me stay on liothyronine and let my t3 levels run too high as I felt better. As she goes by the whole picture not just bloods. Even she seems perplexed re brain fogs. She didn't know the term?! When I asked her if she came across it much she said ; some of my hashimotos patients mention it.

I am confused. That wasn't a joke. I presented with acute confusion and so did my dad and that's how we got diagnosed. Yes we had loads of other slow insidious symptoms but we only connected them in hindsight.

I know many of you on here talk about your brain fogs so I know it's connected. But as you know doctors poo poo most sources.

Is there any way I can "prove" to doubting dox my altered cognition. with language they understand. Medical references, accepted research by 'nice ', NHS leaflets,.

Sorry if this doesn't make sense. I do try and look up stuff for myself but I get overwhelmed and confused in the end and my head hurts. Sorry I know you are all just as poorly.

11 Replies

just a quick search....

I just typed brain fog into pubmed - it IS a recognisable thing & not just thyroid-related.

Mental sluggishness & confusion are listed signs on TUK

NHS definition (under CFS)...

"poor short-term memory and concentration, and difficulty organising thoughts and finding the right words ("brain fog")"

third time trying to answer - hope it helps

J :D

Spareribs in reply to Spareribs

signs & symptoms list

poppppy in reply to Spareribs

Thankyou so much . I am going to use this list for me to see how far I have come as some symptoms I had and have forgotten I had. And when GPS etc ask I can't remember.

Sorry to ask but do NHS approve of and respect thyroid UK literature. As it's them I am trying to get through too

Have you had your B12 and folate tested ? Your result needs to be in excess of 500. Also have Ferritin and VitD tested. Low B12 can become a neurological condition if left undiagnosed and poorly treated. When hypo vits and minerals need to be optimal and not just in range.

Brain fog can also be due to vitamin / mineral deficiencies, which afflict those of us with thyroid problems. Treating the thyroid alone is not enough. Deficiencies must be sorted out too and this helps the thyroid treatment to work better.

You may find this page from Dr Myhill's site useful. I see that it refers to her page on hypothyroidism, so there's a connection there.

What you want to look for is "Cognitive dysfunction" which could also be called "brain fog."

Immediately below is a great article that should be helpful in your quest to get your physician up to speed on "brain fog" and hypothyroidism. Below are a few snippets from it. Please be sure to read the article in its entirety. It will prove to anyone who reads it just how vital adequate (preferably optimal!) thyroid function is to (brain) cognition.

Thyroid Function and Cognition during Aging

"Low thyroid function at any age causes cognition to deteriorate because hypothyroidism prevents the brain from adequately sustaining the energy (glucose)-consuming processes needed for neurotransmission, memory, and other higher brain functions.

Brain hypometabolism therefore appears to be a precursor lesion increasing the risk of at least some forms of cognitive decline [such as Alzheimer's Disease]. Since thyroid hormone concentrations change with age and since cognitive decline is often concomitant with aging, physiological changes in thyroid function might be causally related to changes in cognition during normal aging."

Also, everyone knows depressed people often experience brain fog. Depression is also a very common symptom of hypothyroidism. Depression is well known to cause brain fog.

Interesting study showed that hypothyroid subjects with depression who are on antidepressants must be administered adequate thyroid hormone in order to compensate for the use of antidepressants. Antidepressants lower the amount of thyroid hormone available to the person taking them.

No wonder antidepressants don't work! The person needs more thyroid hormones!

The study: "Low plasma thyroid indices of depressed patients are attenuated by antidepressant drugs and influence treatment outcome."

"These findings show that depressed inpatients' serum TSH levels are within the reference range, but significantly lower than those of healthy subjects, and those patients who turn out to be nonresponders have potentially lower availability of thyroid hormones than responders. Therefore, we hypothesize that in order to assure clinical improvement in depression, an adequate capacity of the thyroid hormone pool is necessary to compensate for the additional antidepressant-provoked decrease in serum thyroid hormone availability."

Also, hypothyroidism and malabsorption (thus malnutrition) go hand-in-hand. Vitamin deficiency is a major contributor to developing hypothyroidism.

The stomach doesn't secrete enough acid to properly break down foods. Eventually, the nutrients and vitamins that used to come from food sources and supplements just aren't getting absorbed. Without proper vitamins and nutrients, thyroid hormones can no longer convert to the active thyroid hormone that provides you with energy and metabolism: everything slows down to a crawl!

This also means you cannot absorb B-12 or B-Complex vitamins or Selenium (among many other vitamins and nutrients) vital to the body's proper functioning and conversion of thyroid hormone.

When the body lacks energy and is running on fumes... well, things can go downhill fast. Without adequate thyroid hormone replacement you suffer symptoms of under-treated hypothyroidism. Symptoms like: Cognitive Dysfunction!

If the above doesn't sound like a reason for "brain fog" to your doctor... then perhaps your physician has brain fog and doesn't even know it!!

Seriously, I truly hope this helps you in your endeavor.


poppppy in reply to CSmithLadd

Thank you so much for all this. I will read the links as soon as having a good day. Thank you and good luck and health to you too

hachiko in reply to CSmithLadd

Thank you. This helped me too.

poppppy in reply to CSmithLadd

Hi again Csmithladd , just read this again on a slightly better day re my 'cognitive dysfunction . " the latter terminology I have U to thank for . As U can see I have taken more in this time . I have only dipped my toe in the water of what looks like a very deep pool of information that I am so so grateful for . This could have been written for me . I know that's funny because it was . But U know what I mean . Selenium I take and to have it reaffirmed . Also I am on anti depressants since teens . No external causative factors found . Quite the opposite . it hit me at 15 when I believed I was living the dream . In love , admirers ,parties ,academic success. Lol . Note academic success was given lowest priority .

I also use a similar analogy to feeling like running on fumes . Like I can feel like I start off running off electricity from national grid ,my liothyronine morning dose , . Then if it runs out before next dose then I can feel the switch over to the emergency generator when the power cut occurs .

Do you think we are running on adrenaline when we are 'running on fumes'. Do U think that because euthyroid people .(sorry if misuse of term but I mean people who have not got hypothyroid or hyperthyroid diagnosis. I am not including well controlled thyroiditis patients ).have an on tap natural top up system that regulates amount t4 in blood stream . That it stands to reason that an invariable (can't think of right word soz is it constant ? ) daily dose is not mimicking a healthy adults physiology .

Surely need more liothyronine on a more physically and mentally demanding day than on say a duvet day for instance .

Diabetics titrate insulin to fit external factors .

I know they have the benefit of blood glucose monitoring for live feedback on which to base their adjustments in insulin dose . And we would be working blind in comparison .

But is there any acknowledgement even of the fact that the current practice of prescribing a steady daily dose is not effective because it doesn't take into account daily energy consumption is not a constant .

Sorry I am repeating myself . Going round in circles . Etc . This is me fighting bad brain fog . As trialling tablet adjustment via very caring consultant . It has failed to work but glad of chance to try so now trying another combination from tomorrow . I am very lucky . As many people on here are suffering so badly . I hope you are one of the more fortunate ones like myself . And I hope I can help you like U have helped me one day

X Poppy

Hi there Poppy!

So great to hear from you again.

You've actually brought up some very good points and have hit on something I truly believe in: that when the cells of the body are low in T3, then taking mediocre amounts of thyroid hormone makes it far more difficult for the body to "catch up" on getting T3 into all the cells of the body as quickly as possible (and safe to do so).

Doctors tend to treat all hypothyroid patients in a similar fashion, no matter how severe the patient's hypothyroidism is at the time of diagnosis. This is a major problem in effectively treating the needs of individual patients.

The main thing doctors do is begin with a higher dose of Levo (T4) when the case of hypothyroidism indicates it is more severe than the norm.

That is just not good enough!

So when you ask whether or not a euthyroid person (a person healthy with no thyroid issues) has a deeper vat or stores of T3 of which to call upon when stress, illness, or any experience that drains our hormonal stores, you are right on the money.

They DO. But then again, "they" used to be "we" who are now hypothyroid. Most of us hae acquired hypothyroidism by way of depleting T3 from the body. A person can go a very long time with low T3 as the body will take T3 from wherever it can get it and use it for the most vital functions of the body.

When we find ourselves struggling, especially with cognitive function, we need a bit of a boost of T3 to help us take care of today as well as the stresses of being hypothyroid! To do that, T4 must be used in combination with enough T3 to get the job done and work on what the body is going to need tomorrow and the day after that.

This is also why it is very important to take T3 at the same time each day. This way it is easier to know when you need to add more T3 to your day. It also means that extra T3 is often needed in times of excess stress. This is why doctors meting out "x" amount per so many days just doesn't work for patients when they are in dire need of more T3 at different crossroads in time. It becomes much like an insulin-dependent diabetic. They know when they need more insulin. The signs are there and they react to those signs by administering what they need.

We have a long way to go as far as doctors understanding all this. But we can help ourselves all we can when we understand what not only is happening to our bodies but what we can do about it.

I hope I have answered your question somewhat, though it is most certainly debatable from other viewpoints. I merely write from experiences of myself and others known to me.

On another note, here's an intriguing article about checking T3 without a blood test:

Thought you might find that interesting.

It is always a pleasure to hear from you, Poppy.

I hope this helps.

Hugs, Charmaine

When I first got diagnosed and explained the brain fog to my GP she was very sympathetic but told me that actually I was suffering from job related stress and was very tired and that's why I was struggling, brain fog wasn't real. As both of those things were true I believed her but haven spoken to other GPs in the same surgery since and they have absolutely accepted it as a symptom! Is it possible for you to swap to a GP who is a bit more aware of thryoid issues? I realise that is easier said that done of course!

I had a telephone appointment with a new GP at my surgery this morning (I'm requested a gluten intolerance test to be added to my next round of bloods) - when he was going over my recent results he said the magic words, "Your T4 was 15 which is technically in the normal range but we don't want normal, we want optimal for you!". I honestly could have cried, it was the first time a GP had treated me like an individual since this all started.

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