A woman holding a hand above a painful spot in her throat around the location of the thyroid.

Potential Thyroid Problems and RA

Last updated: January 2023

Guess what? There's another autoimmune disease on the horizon right now for me — potentially - as I'm still waiting for my doctor for an official diagnosis. But, I'm struggling with this one, just like I struggled with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) but this time in a different way.

It's not as bad as having RA, just a very different story.

Could a thyroid issue be causng my new symptoms?

I noticed that a little bit before the pandemic started and continuing to this day, I had a whole host of symptoms: unexplained weight gain, purple stretch marks, eyes and mouth are dry (you know that feeling when you are just sick — autoimmune sick, I mean), fatigue/malaise, brain fog, body aches and pains, and more. And what feels like a lot of inflammation coursing through my body.

In addition, I've been having a lot of mental problems that may not be related (these have been officially diagnosed: depression, anxiety, OCD, the list goes on), but definitely seem to be since they are exacerbated during this time.

Sure, some of it could just be related to the pandemic, but we've been in the pandemic for quite a while now. And I've experienced these conditions before and I can recognize when it's getting worse, unfortunately.

The potential diagnosis looming over me is Hashimoto's thyroiditis.

What is Hashimoto's thyroiditis?

Basically, Hashimoto's is autoimmune hypothyroidism where your body starts attacking your thyroid, producing inflammation along with a whole bunch of other symptoms.

Non-autoimmune hypothyroidism runs in my family, so it's not something totally foreign to me. My mom, grandmother, and aunt all have it, so it only seemed natural that I would eventually experience it in my life. While they don't have the autoimmune version of it (i.e. Hashimoto's), the genetic predisposition is there.

In addition to that, I also have two swelling points near my thyroid that are clearly noticeable. They protrude out from my neck, and that is what shifted my doctor's belief to something more thyroid-based rather than something else (which I'll take about below).

A potential diagnosis of Cushing's syndrome

Of course, as I mentioned earlier, the diagnosis has not been officially made. So, it could be something else. One other potential diagnosis is Cushing's syndrome which is usually diagnosed through cortisol testing and through the visible purple stretch marks (which I have, too).1

It is a little more complicated to get diagnosed because you usually have to go to an endocrinologist, do a complete round of cortisol testing (including a 24-hour urine test), and more. Surprisingly, Cushing's syndrome is often related to taking steroids and corticosteroids used to treat autoimmune conditions like RA.1

Cushing's disease

What is scarier about Cushing's is that when it's not caused by medication — which is true for me, since I'm not on any corticosteroids — it's usually caused by a tumor (sometimes benign, sometimes not) on your pituitary gland.1 This is known as Cushing's disease which is a type of Cushing's syndrome. Yikes!

A path to getting diagnosed

Thankfully, I am on the path to getting diagnosed. I know there is something wrong with my body, and I am open to possibilities (that sounds weird to say), but I'm tired of feeling this way.

A whole battery of bloodwork is getting done soon with over 13 tests, so I'm hoping that this expensive venture will turn into something fruitful — even when the consequence of that fruit is potentially dangerous.

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