Maybe Migraine Isn’t Always to Blame: Adventures in Hyperthyroidism

Since last summer, I’ve lost 15 pounds, eaten anything I’ve wanted without gaining weight, had night sweats, and have been even more intolerant to heat than usual. Nausea went from a rare problem to occasionally more debilitating than the head pain. It has barely abated in the last week.

As symptoms I assumed were migraine (nausea, nearly blacking out, fatigue) and depression (anxiety, restlessness, fatigue) added up, I had to wonder if something else was going on. Suspicious that my endocrine or metabolic systems were the culprit, yesterday I finally had the second follow-up appointment for the lump found on my thyroid in 2006.

With his wild gray curls, enormous smile and a Jerry Garcia tie, the endocrinologist won me over immediately. He listened to me carefully, felt my thyroid and sent me to the lab. In his words, had he been a betting man he’d put money on hyperthyroidism. Two vials of my blood will be tested for thyroid dysfunction and a host of metabolic disorders, including diabetes. The results should be available today or tomorrow.

I have to admit that I have my fingers crossed. I was about to write “I never thought I could be so happy being told I probably have hyperthyroidism.” Truth is, I’m thrilled every time there’s a clue something relatively easy to manage could be exacerbating my migraines.

I’m trying to control the nausea as much as possible as I wait for the news. Antiemetics have stopped the vomiting and I can keep down saltines and ginger ale. I’ve even managed some chicken soup. (Don’t worry, I’ll call my doctor if this continues.)

Baseball season started this week and I’m digging Netflix on demand, so I’m fairly well entertained. Sadly, working on the computer is still making me feel worse, so I’m not blogging, reading news, visiting the online support group and forum, or answering e-mail. In fact, 30 minutes on my computer is taking a toll.

I wrote this Wednesday morning and felt too sick to post it. Last night I drugged myself up and was able to eat real food. I feel better now than I have all week; I’d better get off the computer before I make myself sick again!


8 Responses to “Maybe Migraine Isn’t Always to Blame: Adventures in Hyperthyroidism”

  1. Beth Says:

    I went through something similar last spring, summer, and fall. All kinds of bloodwork came back normal. Are your night sweats cold or hot? Mine would leave me with soaked pajamas and freezing. I was even sweating a lot during the day. I was dehydrated frequently and my blood glucose levels kept dipping (I’m not diabetic). The nausea, with or without migraines, was awful. My heart would race at all hours of the day and night and my head felt weird. It would wake me from a sound sleep. Sometimes my normally low BP would shoot up also. Anxiety, fatigue, and weakness were out of hand. I was steadily losing weight without trying at all. ER doctors tried to tell me it was “just” anxiety/panic attacks. I kept careful notes of all strange episodes, including glucose level and BP. It got so bad I could hardly function and I have 2 teenagers and a husband to care for. Finally my doctor figured out that I was having adrenaline surges caused by autonomic dysfunction, also called dysautonomia. My sympathetic nervous system–fight or flight–was out of whack. First the doctor put me on 25 mg. Toprol to control the rapid heartbeat. After getting stabilized on that, the doctor put me on 60 mg. Cymbalta because it acts on the sympathetic nervous system. Thankfully, he started me on 15 mg. and had me work up to 60 mg. It made me feel very sick the first few days. After being on the full dose of Cymbalta for a couple weeks, I began to feel like myself again. I still had some episodes of my pulse being right around 100, but adding Hawthorn Berry Extract has taken care of that. If your bloodwork comes back negative, please explore the possibility of dysautonomia. has a good article about it.

  2. Wisdom Says:

    That’s a bummer that being on the computer makes you feel so bad…

  3. Rain Gem Says:

    I hope it’s just some sort of seasonal thing and not those serious things you said that I didn’t understand… Hang in there πŸ™‚

  4. deborah Says:

    Oh, I feel for you. pray for you. sympathize. If you can, have Hart get you a GOOD qint of wonton soup. Trust me here, It needs to be from a good chinese, real chinese restaurant, though. Not the take-out, fast-food stuff. The real thing. Hope you feel well soon.

  5. Megan Oltman Says:

    Oh, Kerrie, you have been having a rough time! I hope this helps clear things up.
    – Megan

  6. Ellen Says:

    Boy, do I hear you! I wish I could count the number of times I have hinted that many people with migraine should get their endocrine system checked out, especially thyroid. There is a huge number of thyroid patients with migraine. Migraine is a known symptom of thyroid disease that isn’t often discussed. Most people link it with low thyroid. The fact is, in real life, hypERthyroid and hypOthyroid share almost identical symptoms. Unfortunately, many docs don’t do the correct testing, and the labs don’t use the current ranges. Usually anything found to be within “normal” range will be ignored until it is too late. If you do an online search of Migraine Autoimmune, or even break up the different autoimmune disorders and add migraine to the search, you’ll be amazed at how many of them include migraine or headache as a symptom of the disease.

    My “low thyroid headaches” are migraine and do not usually start with an aura. The prodromes are very profound however and it is difficult to tell where one migraine attack starts and another begins. My hypERthyroid headaches are migraine with aura. Brilliant, vibrant, severe aura. The attacks are usually of shorter duration (hours vs days) and the auras come one after another after another. There is also something called Encephalopathy ( graves induced, or hashimoto’s) that is caused by autoimmune thyroid disease.

    Yes, thyroid is a potent hormone with far reaching consequences to the brain and body.

    I found that adding T3 therapy to my T4 helped my headaches, so long as my FT4 levels stay consistently on the mid to high side of normal. Keeping my TSH suppressed is important, but anything below 1 and I risk having hypER headaches.

    Thyroid influences each and every cell in our bodies. This also includes reproductive hormones, which when imbalanced we also know causes migraine. Cortisol imbalances are a result of any stress on the body, especially thyroid issues, and this also causes migraines in some people. It also tends to cause sleep problems, another migraine trigger for many.

    The pituitary gland in the bottom of the middle of the brain is the thermostat to the thyroid. It is the gland controller. Imbalances in this gland can cause endocrine imbalances across the board.

    One must also look at the effect altered thyroid levels have on the rest of the body, which can also result in migraine triggers. Imbalances in minerals such as magnesium, vitamins such as those in the classification of B vitamins (esp B2, B6 and B12 (which is anti-inflammatory), insulin imbalances, and blood fat and homocysteine levels as well as heart valve symptoms all can trigger migraine in the right person.

    Endocrine issues are big migraine triggers and should be on the first line of defense when doing initial screening tests for migraine. It should also be the first line of defense for anyone with migraine, since levels can fluctuate and be difficult to find in a single lab. Frequent retesting might also be warranted, especially in the light of the fact that the normal ranges have recently been severely tightened. Those that thought they were fine, may indeed have been mis-diagnosed because the doctor or lab didn’t know the ranges had been changed.

    Be sure to get and keep copies of all your labs and tests so you can keep tabs on your progress. This is key to getting good care when you have thyroid issues.

    Good luck with your thyroid journey! Hopefully once you get that fairly balanced, your migraine headaches might not be as much of a problem. πŸ™‚ We can hope…


  7. Sue Says:

    Sorry you’re having such a rough time Kerrie.

  8. Amy Says:

    Has anyone here had open heart surgery? My daughter had this surgery at age 3, and has suffered from migraines since then. No one has been able to put together this puzzle for me. The troubling part is that she is now 12, and has missed about 70 days of school this year.

    Any thoughts?

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