Hypothyroidism Symptoms but Test Negative, Cushing’s Syndrome

RoseG64 Asked :

Over the past 4 years I have been having many ups and downs with my health and I am a total loss as to what to do next. I am now 46 years old and was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when I was 38. After that it was suspected that I had lupus but this was put to rest after some tests.

I stayed on the medication until I was 42 years old and then I stopped it. I still had joint pain and swelling at times but for about 2 years I managed without any drugs and I was okay somewhat. About 4 years ago, I was diagnosed with depression after a messy divorce and things just went downhill from there. I started gaining weight, had a bout of alcohol abuse (I no longer drink) and my periods stopped.

I got my life back on track and my periods returned although they were irregular. The weight gain just stayed no matter what I tried. I went to a doctor who told me that it may be a thyroid problem. The thyroid hormones and antibody test were normal and that was ruled out. My periods have stopped again and my hair is thinning but I think at this age, it is probably menopause. I also get these splitting headaches recently. The strange thing that I do have is very slight protrusion of my eyeballs which I believe is usually seen in hyperthyroidism.

I was also diagnosed with hypertension about a month ago by another doctor who now wants to run a host of tests to see what is going on. I have seen many doctors in the past few years but they all come up with the same thing which is an underactive thyroid yet my tests were negative. Is there something else that they should be looking for?

This question was posted under the Hypothyroidism vs Hyperthyroidism, Differences in Signs and Symptoms article.

Any response by the Health Hype team does not constitute a medical consultation and the advice should be viewed purely as a guide. Always consult with your doctor before making any changes to your current treatment program. The information provided in this article is not an authoritative resource on the subject matter and solely intends to guide the reader based on the questions asked and information provided.

Dr. Chris Answered :

It is important to stay to one doctor and return for follow up consultations in order for your doctor to take the next step in the diagnostic protocol. Each doctor would have come up with a number of differential diagnoses which they will try to confirm or exclude one at a time. Considering that hypothyroidism, particularly Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is fairly common in women, they will attempt to verify this diagnosis first. If you are changing doctors frequently and if each is not aware of your test results, it is only natural that they will repeat these tests and try to exclude one condition at a time – starting from the common ones.

Given your history and symptoms over the past few years, it is possible that you have Cushing’s syndrome. This condition is not as common as hypothyroidism but there are many similar signs and symptoms especially in the early stages.You should speak to your doctor about this condition and if he/she arrives at the same conclusions based on the physical examination and case history, the necessary tests will be conducted to confirm or exclude Cushing’s syndrome. Mild exopthalmos (protruding eyeballs) may occur in Cushing’s syndrome so do not be distracted by this feature.

There are other disorders of the pituitary gland that may also account for many of these symptoms but your doctor will discuss this with you. These may not be the only causes of your symptoms but the only way to verify this for now is to run all the tests one by one as your doctor advises. It is important to report all your symptoms in chronological order and in your case, it would be best to write it down for your doctor.

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