Are you often feeling fatigued, sluggish or weak even though you are being treated for hypothyroidism? The answer might not be in the dosage of medication you are taking, but in how the medication is being taken.

Taking your thyroid medication properly is very important. Thyroid hormone, when taken orally, helps replenish the body's systems that were impaired by a lack of the hormone. When your doctor prescribes medication to assist your underactive thyroid, make sure to keep these tips in mind to ensure success with your medication:
Take your thyroid hormone once each day on an empty stomach — one hour prior to a meal or 4 hours after. Take your medication at the same time, every day! Do not take your thyroid medication with any other medications, since thyroid medication is best absorbed alone. Drink a full glass of water with your medication, unless specifically directed otherwise.
Brand name vs. generic: Does it matter?

Keep in mind that it is important to be consistent with the medication you are taking if you want successful results. Generic and brand-name thyroid hormone work equally as well. But, your insurance or pharmacy may change the type of generic you are taking often and without your notice. This can cause a disruption in the treatment of your hypothyroidism. To ensure a constant and more successful treatment for your hypothyroidism, we recommend a prescription for brand-name hormone.

Brand names for thyroid hormone include:
Synthroid Levoxyl Tirosint Cytomel
Generic examples include:
Levothyroxine Liothyronine Liotrix
Did you know your thyroid gland is the largest gland in your neck? It is shaped like a butterfly and wraps around the trachea.

Your thyroid gland's sole purpose to make hormones that regulate the body's metabolism. If your thyroid makes too little hormone, it is refered to as hypothyroidism. Treatment usually is straightforward. That's why it is important to be consistent with the form of medication you take.

Signs of hypothyroidism (or improper medication) also include increased sensitivity to cold, constipation, pale dry skin, a puffy face, unexplained weight gain, brittle fingernails and hair, depression and muscle aches.

Risk factors for hypothyroidism include being a woman 50 years or older, having an autoimmune disease, being a close relative to someone with an autoimmune disease, having radiation to your neck or upper chest and having had thyroid surgery.

If you have any questions regarding your thyroid hormone medication or its instructions, please call Draelos Metabolic Center at (405) 330-2362.

About the author:


autoimmune diseases in women

27 thoughts on “Autoimmune Diseases In Women

  1. Amanda Hudson

    47 year old women who has noticed a balding spot?
    I work with a 47 year old women who noticed a balding spot 3 months ago on the back of her head. It is now about the size of an orange and it started out the size of a quarter. And now just recently another balding spot started near her bangs. There is no rash or irritation. Had this happend to anyone, personal accounts would be nice.

    1. coolwoman27

      It could be Alopecia. Its an autoimmune disease; that’s is when a persons immune system attacks their body,in this case their hair follicles. It usually starts off with a bald spot the size of a quarter, then more will fall especially in clumps around the head. some cases the person will lose body hair(eye lashes & eye brows) as well. This will happen over a period of several months. Most cases the hair will grow back later. There is no cure for this disease.

  2. horrorfan

    Is it possible to have such a high metabolism that its impossible to maintain the required caloric intake?
    Can you have such a high metabolism that your body feeds off of your fat and muscle? If so what is the name of this disease?

    1. MeMeMe


      Yes it is possible. It could be caused by many things, possibly a medical condition. If you have been this way your whole life or since puberty, then it may just be that you need to eat more. If it sprung up suddenly, then it may be from a medical condition, which you should get checked out by a doctor.

      I was diagnosed with Grave’s Disease when I was 14, which is a type of autoimmune thyroid disease in which my thyroid is really fast (hyperthyroidism). I lost tons of weight very quickly due to the high metabolism. I required about 4,000 calories a day to maintain my weight, and about 6,000 a day to gain weight. So after over one year on a 6,000 calorie a day diet, I gained 40 pounds, and after my medication was stabilized, I lost some of that and stayed at an even weight.

      Hyperthyroidism is more common in women than men, but it is very possible that this is the cause. Ask your doctor for blood tests (thyroid panel) to get tested for this and they will let you know.

      The only other thing I can think of is if you are abusing stimulants (cocaine, meth, pills), or are on ADD medication (Ritalin, Adderal), these can cause severe chronic weight loss, even if you’re not addicted. Also if you’re having any stomach or lower intestinal issues (chronic diarrhea, etc.), this may be the cause…

      Good luck!!!

  3. Amanda

    Is there evidence that pregnancy causes the mother to develop an autoimmune disease?
    My grandmother and a cousin both developed severe rheumatic autoimmune diseases after pregnancy, when being previously fine before pregnancy. I have not been able to find any additional evidence of pregnancy causing an autoimmune disease to develop, but am wondering if anyone knows of a link between the two, either clinical or anecdotal.

    I realize that pregnancy has effects on women who already have autoimmune diseases, but am trying to weigh the risks of developing an illness from being pregnant. Any additional information would be very helpful. Thank you!

    1. Teresa

      What happens is that the disease is not active, but there, and flares after the delivery. Autoimmune diseases are “triggered” and often dormant.

      I have RA. It was triggered by strep throat at age 27. I probably got it at about age 23, when it was assumed I had carpal tunnels from being a pastry chef. Turns out, after having the electrical test for carpal tunnels, I didn’t have carpal tunnels. I was experiencing the beginning of my RA those years back, without the full-blown symptoms I had once the strep throat came along. Now I have the full-blown RA.

      Keep in mind that giving birth is a traumatic event to your body and trauma can cause an autoimmune disease. People have been triggered into RA by car accidents, believe it or not.

  4. Mary Posa

    Why aren’t you supposed to clean the kitty litter when you are pregnant?
    I’ve always heard this growing up that women who are pregnant aren’t supposed to clean the kitty litter box. But I never found out why or how it could harm them or the baby.
    Anybody know?

    1. bailezra

      Cat feces can expose you to toxoplasmosis, which isn’t something that would normally be harmful to you, unless you had HIV or some other kind of autoimmune disease. But exposure to toxoplasmosis can cause all kinds of complications in pregnancy, including miscarriage.

      It’s best to have someone else scoop the litter, but if that isn’t possible, wear gloves and a mask when you do it, scoop the litter box at least daily, and wash thoroughly when you are done.

  5. phinetic

    What are my chances of inheriting lupus form my mom?
    My mom only has the skin lupus, and not the kind that infects internal structures. I am also male (which I understand lessens your risk?). My father has no autoimmune diseases. I do have a few autoimmune disease however, which include hypothyroidism, and a small area of psoriasis on my leg.

    Are there other autoimmune disease I should be concerned about down the road? I’m turning 24 in a few months, and again I am also male.

    1. ParzLou

      Although anyone can get lupus, most estimates show that 9 out of 10 people who contract lupus are women. With it also being 3 times more likely to be found in African American women than white women

  6. Amanda

    Can you fast during Ramadan if you have hypothyroidism?
    My doctor says no, but I have heard of several people fasting during this holy month and they have thyroid disease–their doctor said it was okay. Thoughts?

  7. Patti D

    My daughter was just diagnosed with condylar resorption. Anyone else have it and can shed some light?
    Condlyar resorption is a rare disease and it sounds like every case is a little different. We are looking to find other people who have this condition and want to know what happened in their cases. My daughter is 17 years old and had jaw surgery last year. The condylar resorption just showed up about two months ago. Her bite is now back to the way it was before surgery. She has some pain and we are seeing a chiropractor.

    1. Annie

      Condylar resorption almost exclusively affects women. Its exact etiology and pathogenesis remain unclear. It has been associated with rheumatoid arthritis, temporomandibular joint internal derangement, condylar fractures, connective tissue or autoimmune diseases, orthodontic treatment, and orthognathic surgery. In most cases, however, there is no identifiable precipitating event, hence the term “idiopathic condylar resorption.” The female predisposition to this condition may be attributed to the influence of estrogen and prolactin on the bone response. Treatment of idiopathic condylar resorption is controversial. Condylectomy and reconstruction with costochondral graft offer definitive management of active idiopathic condylar resorption.

  8. MusicLover358

    What illnesses are more likely to happen to girls?
    I need to know any diseases that will affect girls more than boys

    so far I have:
    Turner Syndrome affects girls only

    that’s all i have i have enough for boys but i need some more for girls please?!

    1. Dana B

      Cancers and other diseases involving the female reproductive tract…uterus, ovaries, cervix, vagina. Also I believe I have read that fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases such as lupus are more common in women.

  9. sweetpea

    Has anyone out there thought they got sick from their breast implants?
    I have been doing research on all the pros and cons of saline breast implants and I read stories of women who claim to have gotten autoimmune diseases and other illnesses from their implants. So I would like to see if there are any people out there who have them now and feel sick. I would also like to hear from people who are completely satisfied with them as well. Thanks for your input, it will be a big help with me making a decision 🙂

    1. JLH1080

      I had my surgery in May, and I am fine. I had silicone too. You can talk to alot of people on the implant forum. Sorry, don’t know the exact site.

  10. LLH

    Why do autoimmune diseases affect more women than men?
    Why do autoimmune diseases affect more women than men? I’m researching MS (multiple sclerosis) and this is mentioned often but never explained. A good medical source on the Web would be great, if you could paste one that explains this. Thanks!!

    1. Ambivalence

      I don’t have a link but I juuuust studied this stuff for an immunology exam. The theory is that testosterone has a mild immunosuppressant effect, which makes the immune system less likely to go overboard.

  11. Ash W

    How do autoimmune disease affect fertility and pregnancy?
    I would like to start trying for a baby next year. I have chronic erticaria and raynauds, and I have been tested for lupus twice and recieved a low positive result. I am really worried.

    1. .

      Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) may appear for the first time, worsen, or become less severe during pregnancy. How a pregnancy affects the course of lupus cannot be predicted, but the most common time for flare-ups is immediately after delivery.

      Women who develop lupus often have a history of repeated miscarriages, fetuses that do not grow as much as expected, and preterm delivery. If women have complications due to lupus (such as kidney damage or high blood pressure), the risk of death for the fetus or newborn is increased.

      In pregnant women, lupus antibodies may cross the placenta to the fetus. As a result, the fetus may have a very slow heart rate, anemia, a low platelet count, or a low white blood cell count. However, these antibodies gradually disappear over several weeks after the baby is born, and the problems they cause resolve except for the slow heart rate.

      Autoimmune Disorders: The abnormal antibodies produced in autoimmune disorders can cross the placenta and cause problems in the fetus. Miscariage often happen in 1st and 2nd trimester of pregnancy. Pregnancy affects different autoimmune disorders in different ways.

      Raynaud’s comes in two forms. One is Raynaud’s disease, which occurs in isolation. The other is Raynaud’s phenomenon, which occurs in conjunction with other diseases, including scleroderma, a hardening and shrinking of the skin; lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the skin, joints, kidneys, nervous system and mucous membranes; and rheumatoid arthritis. Raynaud’s phenomenon also commonly occurs in people who use vibrating or hammering tools or instruments
      It’s not known why more women than men have Raynaud’s, but women get autoimmune diseases such as scleroderma and lupus more than men do, and Raynaud’s often develops with these.

      Pregnancy often aggravating urticaria.

      Your condition is very complicated.But there are many worst condition. Baby are worthed, every women ready to sacrifice almost everything to have baby. You might need ask your family to support you, get as many information as you can, and very important to cooperate with your physicians. Select them carefully. We want you and your future babies to be safe.

      Best wishes.

  12. in need!

    Has anyone with interstitial cystitis ever been to the mayo clinic? If so, what are your results, or doc name?
    i have been diagnosed with IC and am desperate to find SOMETHING ANYTHING to help relieve of the unbearable pain i am undergoing! i am fed up with this and need any remedy to rid of this unwelcome autoimmune disease i have been encrypted with! please please if anyone has any reccomendations or doctors names that i should see, please tell me!

    thank you all!

    1. pimpster spitty (spitchus)

      Wherever you go, the first thing you do is scope out the location of the nearest toilet. You can’t get a good night’s sleep because the pressure or pain in your bladder awakens you. And you may have pain in your pelvis, which can range from mild burning or discomfort to severe pain.

      You may think you have a urinary tract infection (UTI), but antibiotics haven’t helped. Instead you may have interstitial cystitis, or painful bladder syndrome. Interstitial cystitis is a chronic condition that affects an estimated 1 million Americans. While it can affect children and men, most of those affected are women. Interstitial cystitis can have a long-lasting adverse impact on your quality of life.

      The severity of symptoms caused by interstitial cystitis often fluctuates, and some people may experience periods of remission. Although there’s no treatment that reliably eliminates interstitial cystitis, a variety of medications and other therapies offer relief. Work with your doctor to find what works best for you.The signs and symptoms of interstitial cystitis vary from person to person. In addition, the symptoms of each affected person may vary over time, periodically flaring in response to common triggers such as menstruation, seasonal allergies, stress and sexual activity.

      Interstitial cystitis symptoms include:

      A persistent, urgent need to urinate.
      Frequent urination that occurs both during the day and during the night, yet you may pass only small volumes of urine each time. People with severe interstitial cystitis may urinate as often as 60 times a day.
      Pain in your pelvis (suprapubic) or between the vagina and anus in women or the scrotum and anus in men (perineal).
      Pelvic pain during sexual intercourse. Men may also experience painful ejaculation.
      Chronic pelvic pain.
      More than 15 percent of people affected by interstitial cystitis experience only symptoms of pain, and at least 30 percent experience only frequent, urgent urination. Most affected people, however, experience both pain and frequent, urgent urination.

      Although signs and symptoms of interstitial cystitis may resemble those of a chronic urinary tract infection, urine cultures are usually free of bacteria. A worsening of symptoms may occur if a person with interstitial cystitis gets a urinary tract infection, however.No simple treatment exists to eliminate the signs and symptoms of interstitial cystitis, and no one treatment works for everyone. You may need to try various treatments or combinations of treatments before you find an approach that relieves your symptoms.

      Oral medications
      Oral medications that may improve the signs and symptoms of interstitial cystitis include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and other nonsteroidal pain medications to relieve discomfort. Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline or imipramine (Tofranil), may help relax your bladder and block pain. Antihistamines may provide symptom relief for some people.

      Your doctor also may prescribe an oral medication, pentosan (Elmiron), the only oral drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration specifically for interstitial cystitis. How it works is unknown, but it may restore the inner surface of the bladder, which protects the bladder wall from substances in urine that could irritate it. It may take two to four months before you begin to feel pain relief and up to six months to experience a decrease in urinary frequency. Side effects include minor gastrointestinal disturbances and possible hair loss, which reverses when you stop taking the drug. Not for use by pregnant women, Elmiron may cause bleeding and loss of pregnancy. Make sure your doctor knows if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

      Nerve stimulation
      Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) uses mild electrical pulses to relieve pelvic pain and, in some cases, reduce urinary frequency. Electrical wires are placed on your lower back or just above your pubic area, and pulses are administered for minutes or hours, two or more times a day, depending on the length and frequency of therapy that works best for you. In some cases a special TENS device may be inserted into a woman’s vagina or a man’s rectum.

      Scientists believe that TENS may relieve pain and urinary frequency associated with interstitial cystitis by increasing blood flow to the bladder, strengthening the muscles that help control the bladder or triggering the release of substances that block pain.

      Bladder distention
      Some people notice a temporary improvement in symptoms after undergoing cystoscopy with bladder distention. Bladder distention is the stretching of the bladder with water or gas. The procedure may be repeated as a treatment if the response is long lasting.

      Medications instilled into the bladder
      In bladder instillation, the prescription medication dimethyl sulfoxide, or DMSO, (Rimso-50) is placed into your bladder through a thin, flexible tube (catheter) inserted through the urethra. The solution sometimes is mixed with other medications, such as a local anesthetic. After remaining in your bladder for 15 minutes, the solution is expelled through urination. Delivering DMSO directly to your bladder may reduce inflammation and possibly prevent muscle contractions that cause frequency, urgency and pain.

      Your doctor may initially perform DMSO treatment weekly for six to eight weeks, and then perform maintenance treatments as needed — often, every couple of weeks — for up to one year.

      A garlic-like taste and odor may last up to 72 hours after treatment. DMSO can affect your liver, so your doctor may monitor your liver function with blood tests. For some people, this procedure may be painful or it may worsen symptoms. Talk with your doctor about other treatment options if this happens to you.

      Doctors rarely use surgery as interstitial cystitis treatment because removal of part or all of the bladder doesn’t relieve pain and can lead to other complications. People with severe pain and people whose bladders can hold only very small volumes of urine are possible candidates for surgery, but even then surgery is usually considered only after other treatments have failed. Surgical options include:

      Bladder augmentation. In this procedure, surgeons remove the damaged portion of the bladder and replace it with a piece of the colon, but the pain still remains and some women need to empty their bladders with a catheter multiple times a day.
      Fulguration. This minimally invasive method involves insertion of instruments through the urethra to burn off ulcers that may be present with interstitial cystitis.
      Resection. This is another minimally invasive method that involves insertion of instruments through the urethra to cut around any ulcers.
      Fulguration and resection are not always effective and could potentially worsen your symptoms.Some people with interstitial cystitis find relief with self-care methods, such as:

      Dietary changes. Although no scientific evidence links the cause of interstitial cystitis to diet, many people with the condition find that eliminating or reducing their intake of potential bladder irritants may help to relieve their discomfort.

      The most irritating foods can be summarized as the “four Cs.” The four Cs include carbonated beverages, caffeine in all forms (including chocolate), citrus products and food containing high concentrations of vitamin C.

      If you find that your bladder is irritated by these things, you may also wish to avoid related foods such as tomatoes, pickled foods, alcohol and spices. Artificial sweeteners may aggravate symptoms in some people, as well. If you think certain foods make you feel worse, try eliminating them from your diet. Reintroduce them one at a time to determine which, if any, affect your signs and symptoms.

      Bladder training. These techniques may help reduce urinary frequency. The training involves timed urination — going to the toilet according to the clock rather than waiting for the need to go. You start by urinating at set intervals, such as every half-hour — whether you have to go or not. Then you gradually lengthen the time between urination. In addition, bladder training may involve learning to control the urge to urinate by using relaxation techniques, such as breathing slowly and deeply, or distracting yourself with another activity.
      These other self-care approaches may help you:

      Wear loose clothing. Avoid belts or clothes that put pressure on your abdomen.
      Reduce stress. Try methods such as visualization and biofeedback, and low-impact exercise.
      Pelvic floor physiotherapy. Gentle stretching and strengthening of the pelvic floor can sometimes help reduce muscle spasms. Some people with interstitial cystitis have pelvic floor dysfunction that may benefit from care by a pelvic floor physiotherapist, sometimes including biofeedback.
      If you smoke, stop. Smoking may worsen any painful condition and smoking is harmful to the bladder. Interstitial cystitis can have a profound adverse effect on your quality of life. Support from family and friends is important, but because the condition is a urinary problem, you may find the topic difficult to discuss.

      Try self-care strategies to determine which ones offer relief. Perhaps most important, find a compassionate physician who is concerned about your quality of life as well as your condition and will work with you to help alleviate your frequency, urgency and bladder pain.

      Ask your doctor about working with a clinic that treats chronic pain as a multifaceted condition, where physical treatments take a back seat to learning and self-discovery. These clinics help you look at how pain has affected your life and find ways to regain control.

      Also, you might benefit from joining a support group. Such a group can provide both sympathetic listening and useful information. For a list of interstitial cystitis support groups throughout the United States or for information on how to start a group in your area, contact the Interstitial Cystitis Association on the Web or call 800-HELP-ICA, or 800-435-7422.

  13. Amanda Lerwick

    What other illnesses can be mistaken for Hypothyroidism?
    I am a 20 year old woman and lot of my symptoms point to Hypothyroidism, but my doctor said it could possibly be something more serious. Im getting blood work done in a few days but ive been trying to find what else it could potentially be.

  14. Musician94

    Can having Hashimoto’s disease increase my chance of getting Diabetes?
    I don’t mean to be a hypochondriac, but I just have this feeling that I might get diabetes because of my hashimoto’s disease and you can never be too careful. Has anyone else been diagnosed with diabetes after being diagnosed with hashimoto’s? I just need to know if there’s a way to prevent it.

    1. TheOrange Evil

      “Diabetic patients have a higher prevalence of thyroid disorders compared with the normal population (Table 1). Because patients with one organ-specific autoimmune disease are at risk of developing other autoimmune disorders, and thyroid disorders are more common in females, it is not surprising that up to 30% of female type 1 diabetic patients have thyroid disease. The rate of postpartum thyroiditis in diabetic patients is three times that in normal women. A number of reports have also indicated a higher than normal prevalence of thyroid disorders in type 2 diabetic patients, with hypothyroidism being the most common disorder.”

      I have Type 2 and hypothyroidism, although I don’t know if it’s autoimmune or not. You’re right that there’s an increased correlation, especially in Type 1 women, but it’s not a guarantee. What increases your odds is whether you have a family member with diabetes. There’s no way to prevent Type 1 diabetes, of course. Type 2 diabetes is highly genetic, and even if you live like a monk with perfect rigid adherence to all sorts of dietary and exercise rules, you may still get diabetes. I wish I could tell you that all you have to do is eat well and you’ll be fine, but if you have diabetes in your family, there may be nothing you can do. Even if environmental factors play a role in diabetes, we simply don’t know what they all are and to what degree they increase the odds.

  15. ツ gerbilsareqt.

    What are the chances I could get Multiple Sclerosis?
    I know the chances will still be very low, but I’m just curious to know what percentage the chance I’ll get it is. I’m a girl, and it’s more common in women, and my father has it, and the risks are slightly higher if you have a first-degree relative with the disease.

    The general population has a 1% chance of getting it. What chance do I have?

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