Allergy To Thyroid Medicine Unusual - Disease

Category: Health: Disease & Conditions

Q: I am a 48-year-old female who has been diagnosed as having Hashimoto's disease. The medicine I take has caused itchy welts. Is this rare, and is the illness rare? Please clarify my condition.

A: Hashimoto's disease is anything but rare. It's the most common cause of adult hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a thyroid gland that is not making enough thyroid hormone.

Thyroid hormone keeps the body perking along at optimum speed. Without enough of it, everything slows. The heartbeat drops. People complain of being tired all the time and of feeling weak. In warm rooms, they feel cold. Their skin dries. Hair becomes brittle and breaks. Constipation is common. Menstrual periods are thrown off-kilter. People gain weight even with a reduced calorie intake. Body metabolism grinds to a halt.

Many have an enlarged thyroid gland — a goiter. The thyroid gland is in the lower part of the neck. The cause of all this is an immune system that has mistakenly targeted the thyroid gland as being foreign tissue. Proof of the immune attack is established by finding in the blood antibodies against the gland. Antibodies are the immune system's bullets.

Even if you haven't experienced all the symptoms I listed, they would have appeared in time if you had not gotten treatment. Treatment is oral replacement of thyroid hormone, and the drug most often chosen is Synthroid.

Allergic reactions to Synthroid, such as itchy welts, are almost never due to the thyroid hormone it contains. However, inactive ingredients –- the stuff that holds the tablets together — can cause reactions like the one you describe. You must report this to your doctor. There are other preparations of thyroid hormone you can take.

Q: I am 27 and about 20 weeks pregnant. I had a blood clot in the past. I was put on Coumadin when I had the clot. Now my doctor tells me that I have a low count of protein S and I need to take a blood thinner, but Coumadin is not an option. It could harm the fetus. Instead, my husband injects me once a day with Lovenox. I fear needles, so this is a nightmare. What is protein S? Are there any alternatives to Lovenox?

A: Blood maintains the fine balance between staying liquid and clotting due to a number of so-called factors that circulate in it. Two of those factors are protein S and protein C. They keep the blood in a liquid state. If there is a deficiency of either or both, then the risk of a clot's forming rises.

Pregnancy is a time when the chances of forming a clot are high. For a pregnant woman with a deficiency of protein S or C, clotting becomes a great hazard, and most such women need to go on a blood thinner.

Coumadin is a commonly used oral blood thinner. In pregnant women, it crosses the placenta and enters the fetal circulation. That puts the fetus in danger of bleeding. Furthermore, it can cause birth defects. Therefore it can't be used during pregnancy.

Lovenox is a substitute. It's a newer medicine, a new version of the older blood thinner heparin. It has to be injected. The shots should not be painful. They're given with a thin needle that's not inserted deeply; only under the skin. I appreciate your dread of needles, but there is no other way to handle this situation.

Q: Does nap-taking make it hard for a person to fall asleep at night? My husband takes an afternoon nap, and sometimes he complains about not being able to fall asleep at night.

A: Evidence suggests that afternoon napping doesn't interfere with getting to sleep at night. People who can afford to take an afternoon nap report being much more alert the rest of the day, and they almost never have trouble falling asleep after going to bed