TSH, or thyroid stimulating hormone, is needed by the thyroid gland for production of thyroid hormones. TSH is made in the pituitary gland and a feedback loop exists between the pituitary, thyroid and the body’s cells, all which work in concert to regulate the proper amount of TSH. If for any reason the thyroid gland cannot properly metabolize TSH or the cells are unable to convert thyroid hormones, the pituitary gland overproduces the amount of TSH. A high TSH score indicates the potential for hypothyroidism, often resulting in unwanted symptoms.
Elevated TSH levels are an indication that there is not enough thyroid hormone being properly metabolized in the body resulting in hypothyroidism and possibly Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disease of the thyroid, according to the Merck Manual. Hypothyroidism and its symptoms are explained in great detail on The Women to Women website. You may experience some or all of the following symptoms based on the severity of your disease — weakness, depression, cognitive dysfuntion, inexplicable bouts of crying alternating with lethargy, and a loss of the will. You may find yourself loosing hair from everywhere on your body and experience dry, flaking skin and dandruff. Uncontrollable weight gain and edema may plague your efforts to stay healthy; you may have food cravings, PMS, hot flashes, cold flashes, low body temperature, menstrual irregularities, cramping, miscarriage, infertility, unexplained chilliness, constipation and numerous other symptoms all originating as a result of low thyroid hormones and high TSH levels.
Cardio Vascular System
Untreated or too little treatment of thyroid conditions may lead to heart disease, artherosclerosis, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, stroke and elevated lipid count contributing to high cholesterol, arterial plaque and fatty liver.
Elevated TSH combined with lowered thyroid hormone levels may contribute to muscle and joint pain resembling arthritis or fibromyalgia, weakness, tiredness and chronic fatigue syndrome. There may be swelling, redness and inflammation of the joints.
Hashimotos thyroiditis is an auto-immune disease which may be connected to the appearance of high TSH levels. The body attacks and destroys the thyroid gland, making it impossible for the gland to produce thyroid hormones naturally. The resultant symptoms are those of permanent hypothyroidism and sometimes hyperthyroidism as the thyroid gland switches on and off in an effort to stabilize. Specific thyroid antibodies are produced indicting the presence of this disease. Replacement thyroid hormones must be taken throughout your life to balance the lack of thyroid and the pituitary gland’s output of TSH.
Elevated TSH indicates a loss of thyroid hormone and may be the first indication of a serious, life-threatening condition known as myxedema coma. When thyroid levels are left untreated for long periods of time or TSH is allowed to rise disproportionately to what is considered normal, excessive chilliness may indicate an unusually low body temperature. The heart rate slows, stupor may develop and you may experience seizures, bodily fluid build up, coma and death. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical assistance immediately.
Merck Manual, Fifteenth edition, 1987
Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, Edited by Clayton L. Thomas, M.D., M.P.H., 1989
Endocrinology and Metabolism, Phillip Felig and Lawrence A. Frohman, 2001
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