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Traumatic Brain Injury and Hypothyroidism

Traumatic Brain Injury and Hypothyroidism

Football season is upon us. Your child may have already started practice for their upcoming season. You have undoubtedly heard about the risks associated with collision and potential concussions, but are you aware of TBI, traumatic brain injury, and the long-term health risks such as hormone issues and thyroid dysfunction?

According to recent statistics, about 1.7 million Americans suffer from some form of traumatic brain injury every year. This can come from falls, motor vehicle accidents, blunt force to the head (physical abuse, beatings/fights, gunshot wounds or other forms of violence) and sports injuries. TBI is any sort of sudden damage to the brain either through the head being hit once or multiple times, or an object going through the skull.

The reason this negatively affects the thyroid and endocrine system is because two very vital parts of the endocrine system our housed in or near the brain: the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. Their function, simply put, is to instruct the body to create and secrete various hormones within the body.

The hypothalamus’ job is to maintain homeostasis and regulate the release of hormones produced by the pituitary gland. In addition to producing hormones, the pituitary gland also instructs other gland to begin making hormones.

Unfortunately, when an individual has TBI the thyroid dysfunction can remain undetected. This is due to the fact that with TBI the TSH, thyroid stimulating hormone (a hormone excreted from the pituitary gland), does not elevate in response to the low thyroid hormones. Because most physicians only test the TSH, this can leave the individual in a very poor state for a long time.

Additionally, TBI impacts the conversion of thyroid hormones. When the body is in a stressed state, as it is with TBI, the body coverts the T4 to reverse T3 rather than the active form, T3. The conversion to RT3 is normal to an extent, but when the majority of T4 is being converted to RT3 the body’s metabolism is greatly compromised.

Other conditions such as adrenal fatigue or insufficiency, growth hormone deficiency, hypogonadism, diabetes, and hyperprolactinemia can present as a result of TBI.

The symptoms to look out for include,

Cognitive Issues:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Memory issues
  • Impulsiveness
  • Confusion
  • Attention problems
  • Easily disctracted

Speech Problems:

  • Difficulty expressing verbally
  • Slurred speak
  • Problems reading and/or writing

Vision Issues:

  • Partial or total loss of vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty or problems judging distance
  • Light intolerance

Other Difficulties:

  • Hearing
  • Taste
  • Seizures
  • Social/Emotional changes

In order to confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will need to run hormone blood tests and may request a MRI to confirm the state of the pituitary gland.

If you or someone you know has experienced head trauma and is now showing symptoms associated with thyroid dysfunction, it would be a good idea to discuss the possibility of TBI with your physician.

About the Author

Naomi Parker

Patient Advocate

Naomi Parker is a patient advocate that is enthralled by the medical field. Hypothyroidism became a topic of interest over the last few years while she worked amongst alternative medicine doctors as a front office assistant. She believes that information is key and strives to become better informed so as to help others achieve success and wellness.

Naomi has written various articles concerning hypothyroidism including information on diagnostics and treatment. She enjoys learning alongside others and passing on vital information regarding this condition. Naomi is actively monitoring and writing for the National Academy of Hypothyroidism both on the site and social media.

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Austin Theriault
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Austin Theriault

Great article! How can I get in contact with the author Naomi Parker?

Pamela
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Pamela

Hi Naomi I’m interested to know more about the brain injury thyroid connection. I had a brain injury on right side frontal lobe in 2005 I had cognitive issues for over a year following it, with behavioural changes and speech problems.. I was not given an mri at the time so am not aware of any damage done. I don’t feel I have ever been the same person since this accident. In 2012 I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and given t4 medication. I became very ill on this within 3 months, with heart palpitations and felt like I was cooking… Read more »

John
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John

Hello Pamela, From your description it seems clear that your lasting problems are due to your brain injury in 2005. From your limited description and my experience it might very plausible that there are two causes for your current problems: (1) It might not be your thyroid that is the problem but your pituitary. (2) Your emotional and cognitive problems seem to indicate that your brain has sustained damage in the right frontal region but also the opposite posterior region on the left side. I you have not sought help in the time since your post; I suggest that you… Read more »

Siv
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Siv

Hi John/Naomi, Im glad that i come accross this post. I have been living with all the above listed symptoms for the last several years. Knowingly for the last 10 years. Im now 38 years old. But when i was 14 years old, i was playing cricket which is baseball in US and was hit by hardball directly hardly on right side of my head above ear. I fainted(i still dont remember how the ball hit me and what happened in that few mins) and woke up after sometime. Only thing i remember was i went for run and turning… Read more »

Siv
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Siv

Hi John/Naomi,

I forgot to mention, my symptoms are more during winter season compared to other seasons.

Thanks

John
Guest
John

Hello Siv, Thank you for describing the problems you been experiencing. These symptoms are very familiar to me since they are commonly present in traumatic brain injury, wither from an accident, fall or blow to the head. As your CT and MRI is concerned. Although these might have been considered as normal, experience has shown that more than seems acceptable abnormalities are missed. This can occur more frequently on an MRI, since there are different modalities. These modalities are selected based on the question asked. If you don’t ask the appropriate question, the modalities that are useful for your condition… Read more »

Siv
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Siv

Hi John.

Thank you for your time to read through my post and valuable response.

I live in Irving(Dallas suburb), Texas. And yes it will be very much helpful if you could advice me the right neurologist around Irving, TX who can better understand my symptoms and helps me with the right tests/procedure to get relieved from these years long symptoms.

Thank you.

John
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John

Hello Siv,

I launched a request to my network of colleagues. I’ll get back to you when I have a response. It might either be a neurologist or psychologist specialized in qEEG and Neurofeedback.

Best regards,

John

Shiv
Guest
Shiv

Thank you John.

I come across the following doctor in Irving. Not sure if he is in your list and/or suits to me.

Dr. Sunil Mathews, MD
Clinical Neurophysiology |
Male |
Age 51

Dr. Sunil Mathews, MD is a clinical neurophysiologist in Lewisville, TX and has been practicing for 28 years. He specializes in clinical neurophysiology, sleep medicine, and more.

I saw this doctors history of doing EEG test, but not qEEG.

I will wait for your suggestion through.

Thank you.

John
Guest
John

Hello Shiv, The short answer to the difference between EEG and qEEG is that qEEG makes things visible that you can’t see in the EEG through ‘eye-balling’ and qEEG is also more reliable. I have had 3 responses from colleagues in the Dallas area, they all have experience with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Here are the websites: http://www.thebrainperformancecenter.com http://www.pnpcenter.com http://www.heritagecounseling.net Please have a look at them, to make your decision. If you need any help, have questions or like to discuss this and more in detail, feel free to contact me. In this case I propose you send me an… Read more »

Shiv
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Shiv

Hi John,

Just wondering if you got any reply from your colleagues around Irving, TX.

Thanks
.

michael
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michael

Join the discussion…I would recommend medspring.com a therapist there is the first and only one who has mentioned to me the link. They do have an office in the Dallas Area.

Diana P
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Diana P

Hi Naomi, I am a PHD who was hit by a teen with a new phone speeding and playing a video game while driving at 55 mph. I was turning into my subdivision at 2 mph and suffered a TBI and spinal contusion. Two weeks prior to the accident, I had labs runs and my thyroid was normal. However, four weeks after the accident, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I have been incredibly tired and was also diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, concussion with loss of consciousness and major depression. My life feels as it is over due to a… Read more »

Kim
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Kim

This is great info and very helpful to me. My thyroid is damaged due to a concussion from years ago. Are there any studies or is there any information out there about potentially “fixing” the problem? Can you undo the damage done – even 20-30 years later?

Michele bloffwitch
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Michele bloffwitch

Hi Naomi

Ive had a TBI that has proberly taken 2 years to get over, & I still struggle with short term memory loss.
Im very active but have put on quite a bit of weight & recently found that my TSH level was 9
What things can i do to help get my throid function working ?

Kathy
Guest
Kathy

I need to take my 19 year old son to get tested for hypothyroid issues. After his concussion 3 years ago he has had diabetes insipidus, orthostatic hypotension and hormone problems. I really want to take him to someone who understands the part tbi plays in bringing on these issues. We live in Sarasota, FL area, but would be willing to travel to another area to get him help. Thank you for any help.

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