Is memory loss linked to thyroid problems? - Thyroid UK

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Is memory loss linked to thyroid problems?


Hello all, this is my first post, I'm after some advice if possible please. I am concerned about my mum who is in her mid 70s. Within the last few weeks myself and other family members have noticed she doesn't seem herself. She seems almost depressed but more worrying seems to be quite forgetful and acting slightly out of character. She was unable to spell some words that she wouldn't have had a problem with before and generally seems to not remember certain things. A doctor has said she has thyroid problems, I need to get more details of this, but our first thought was the onset of dementia, although we don't have a history of this in our family. We will of course be making an appointment with the doctor again but just after some thoughts on thyroid issues and if it can cause memory issues will they be permanent. My mother has various health issues, she is Type 2 diabetic and takes statins and has also been told her body makes too much calcium. She has a fatty liver but doesn't drink and isn't overweight, if anything she is underweight. She also has arthritis.

Any feedback or advice would be most appreciated. Thank you.

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25 Replies

For full Thyroid evaluation your mother needs TSH, FT4, TT4, FT3 plus TPO and TG thyroid antibodies and also very important to test vitamin D, folate, ferritin and B12

NHS often only tests TSH

Her calcium being too high may be something entirely separate - hyper Parathyroidism

Parathyroid glands are independent of the thyroid, but physically inside the thyroid gland

See her GP next week and find out exactly what the problem is. She is legally entitled to printed copies of all her blood test results and ranges

Come back with new post with results and ask advice

Low vitamins and/or thyroid problems can cause memory issues or depression

Low B12 is common as we get older, particularly with thyroid issues

List of hypothyroid symptoms

Thank you, when you say the NHS only test TSH does that mean we would need to go private for the other tests?

SlowDragonAdministrator in reply to Concerned2018

Sadly yes. Very often NHS refuses to test more than TSH and, if lucky , FT4.

If TSH and FT4 are within range then labs refuse to test FT3 or thyroid antibodies

GP could get vitamin levels tested if they choose to.

Find out exactly what she has had tested already and get printed copies of actual results and ranges. This is her legal right. They can not refuse

No my tests are NHS and only once in 30 years have I had TSH only . .if worried just ask the doctor to do full bloods. Remember type 2 diabetes is food related and can mess with people's thinking as can a simple urinary infection so make sure your mothers diet is as sugar free as possible and she is well hydrated . with simple water. My 81 yr old brother was hospitalised recently, confused and forgetful and needed these simple remedies to get better. Undertreated thyroid also can have these symptoms so a many pronged approach needed. Good luck.

The brain needs an awful lot of thyroid hormone. And, if it doesn't have enough, all sorts of problems can arise. A bad memory is just one of them. So is having problems spelling, forgetting names, losing your way, and all sorts of other things. But, if these problems are caused by low thyroid hormones, they should not be permanent. They should go back to normal once her hormone levels are raised. :)

From reading this Forum for seven years it is sad to read that Docs rarely make the connection with thyroid and other conditions. They like to treat symptoms individually and not join up the dots.

Statins do NOT benefit women for some reason and as the brain is 25% cholesterol taking a statin will affect the brain as well as causing muscle weakness and other issues.

If your Mum is taking Metformin for the Type 2 then that will prevent good absorption of B12. B12 - if under 500 can become a neurological issue if left untreated. Folate & Ferritin need to be around mid-range and VitD around 100. These tests are not routine and need to be requested.

Sadly many medcations come with their problems and side effects. Raised cholesterol is often linked to low thyroid and a slower metabolism in the liver. Make sure you find out her dose of levo/T4 - maybe too low a dose.

Calcium - Statins also block the VitK2 pathway in the body and this important vitamin clears calcium from the arteries and into bones and teeth.

Statins also block CoQ10 - a spark needed in every cell of the body. This lack can be the cause of muscle weakness.

Do hope you can make some progress with your Mum and her GP. It could be a tough call 😊 So glad she has you by her side. Many of us here are in our 70's and improvng daily with the help of advice given here ... myself included !!

Sallybones in reply to Marz

I've just learned a lot from your explanation Marz. Thank you. Need to add it to my little book of knowledge that I keep for when I forget what I think I'll remember. If that makes sense!!!

jgelliss in reply to Marz



BIG PHARMA AT IT'S BEST . Add to the Mix MEDICAL ACADEMIA . Keep Society SICK and KEEP THEM coming back for more and more meds . When the truth is having the RIGHT thyroid meds T4/T3/NDT Optimally Dosed with proper Nutrients is the Answer . It's Very Simple and Lucrative For Them . They have their OWN Best Interest in Heart . It's Called Follow the M-O-N-E-Y .


Has she been prescribed statins due to a higher cholesterol level in her blood?

Follow SlowDragon's advice for the full blood test. This is important as doctors only test TSH and T4 and this is not sufficient for diagnosis. The most important is the FT4 and FT3.

I shall give you a link of symptoms and you will be surprised there's so many.

Blood tests for thyroid hormones always have to be the very earliest , fasting, and if she was taking thyroid hormone replacements 24 hours should elapse between last dose and test and take afterwards. Doctors only look at the TSH and T4. It is not sufficient.

A higher cholesterol level is usual if hypothyroid but reduces when we are give thyroid hormone replacements to an optimal level.

Concerned2018 in reply to shaws

Thank you. Yes initially it was because her cholesterol was high, she was told her body naturally produces cholesterol but she's brilliant at keeping it under control, its within a normal range. She isn't overweight, if anything she's underweight. She also has a fatty liver but she doesn't touch alcohol.


This is a link which may be helpful. If your mother is taking levothyroxine, it may not be optimum. The aim is a TSH of 1 or lower but many GPs believe that a TSH somewhere in range is fine - no it isn't and doctors and endocrinologists don't seem to know best how to prescribe to optimum. That's why we have so many members - let down by the professionals.


Thyroid issues can lead to poor memory as can lack of B12. Also a common cause of memory issues and confusion in older people can be infections such as chest or urine.There is a lot lot rule out before you need to think about dementia. My first port of call would be to get her blood results and post here and to also get her some B12 patches (not tablets as poorly digested) and see if they help.

SlowDragonAdministrator in reply to Hidden

B12 mouth spray is good option too

Better You make an apricot flavour spray

But do NOT start any B vitamin supplements until been tested

Hidden in reply to SlowDragon

I agree not to take supplements untill tested but even if your mum has a normal B12 result or even high levels on a blood test it is well worth taking some. The B12 blood test is unreliable and is stated as such on nHS choices so unless you try it you wont know if the memory problems as B12 related or not. I also toke some lozenges for a while and had high levels but I needed to inject and was not abosrbing the B12 properly now have B12 jabs once a week the difference to my memory is amazing. Dont understand why.

You may want to try MCT oil in addition to the vitamins sUggested. And yes, the meds can cause big problems. Good luck.

I have written in the past about my husbands experience with hypothyroidism and its treatment over the years and being prescribed statins, so I'll try to keep this short.

He did beautifully on Armour when he was first diagnosed over 30 yrs ago. Blood panel #'s were always great. Then new dr. switched him to Synthroid and things went down hill....poor thyroid #s, weight gain, rising cholesterol. Then his dr. added statins. Within a few months he started having mild memory loss. He was in his early 60's at this point. I did some reading up on all this and started him on COQ10, which seemed to help in a few areas. Finally we found a new Dr. who would prescribe NDT...Naturethroid….we live in the US. Within 6 month his #s greatly improved and he was slowly weaned off his statins. His memory is back to normal.

I do not have a medical background, so I would never give medical advice. My only advice would be to do as much reading on the subject as you possible can to become as educated as you can on these subjects.

Statins cause adverse side-effects and are generally not recommended (by progressive clinicians) for women. Statins reduce quality of life in elderly people and cause demise and higher rate of mortality/death. Elderly people fare better without statins. Statins are known to cause and exacerbate Type 2 Diabetes. Statins impede the natural process between Vit D and Cholesterol. Statins reduce CoQ10 throughout the body and in the heart muscle, resulting in more fatigue and muscle pain. Statins cause dementia.

GPs &/or GP Practices receive a financial bonus for each patient they put on statins.

Could be a urinary tract infection causing the changes...especially if you notice any strong odors in the toilet area after she pees. This happened to my mom Last year.

I don't think so but worth bearing in mind, thank you

I can’t add anything to what’s been said already but I’m so glad she has you to fight her corner. Good luck.

Hi. I can only comment on my symptoms before I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I had what’s commonly called 'brain fog' which meant I couldn’t remember things and at work I was making mistakes in written documents as if my brain wasn’t working at all! I knew because I’d look the following day at what I’d written (or not) and be horrified. When I went to see my GP i had so little energy I was slumped i. the chair leaning on his desk supporting my head up with my hands. You often read of patients being diagnosed with depression when they were actually suffering with hypothyroidism. Once I’d been diagnosed and had been taking levothyroxine for a while the brain fog gradually improved.

I hope your Mum gets the help she needs.

Regarding the mention of statins, I remember years ago the nurse at my GP, who was always up on the latest research, stating that she would never take a statin. She said not only would they slowly destroy your brain (which is largely cholesterol), but that they were not developed for or tested on women. That just always stuck with me, since she was a medical professional and someone I had known for years and trusted.

I definitely agree with the others who have mirrored the sentiment that they could cause major issues.

Poor woman no wonder shes depressed, she must be scared too losing memory and a fatty liver but she doesnt even drink, this is scaring me too.

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