Is It Allergy Or Is It Thyroid

Well is it allergy or is it thyroid malfunctioning? I have spent months trying to find the answer to this question.. I did have some symptoms of allergy or hay fever, but they could also be symptomatic of a troublesome thyroid gland. When I first went to my doctor he assured me it was allergy. I queried thyroid and he dismissed that idea. As time went on while busily taking antihistamines and eye drops with little change in my condition, various people kept suggesting thyroid problems. Eventually i asked the nurse at the doctors office to organise a blood test for me.

The results came back as borderline under active thyroid. My doctor then suggested I take iodine to prevent it becoming under active. He still insisted I did not have a thyroid problem and my symptoms were still due to allergy/hay fever.

My initial symptoms were puffy bags under my eyes and watery streaming eyes especially on waking. My eyes were also red and felt gritty at times. My other symptom was very dry frizzy hair. Over time my eyes appeared to be staring and protruding from my eye sockets. This symptom is typically associated with overactive or hyperthyroidism. They felt uncomfortable and at times ached. The puffiness under my eyes progressed to above my eyes as well. My cheeks also became puffy. I have recently seen a photo with the exact look I had, apart from the staring eyes - bags under eyes and puffy cheeks.

After much searching on the internet and reading books from the library I am quite convinced my symptoms are all due to a low thyroid function - my test results were within the normal range but at the very low end of normal which I believe resulted in my experiencing some of the symptoms usually associated with under active or hypothyroidism. I have stopped taking antihistamines which never of course made any difference because I have not been suffering from allergies. My eyes are steadily resuming a normal look with the iodine supplement. My latest test results are more normal than the first ones

The Thyroid gland is a small butterfly shaped gland situated in the front of your neck just below the larynx - pretty much at the base of the neck.The Thyroid gland is a very important gland in the body. It is responsible for metabolism and determines whether you have a slow or fast metabolism by the amount of hormone it produces. It is also involved in bone growth and muscle function as well as respiration, heart rate, mood, skin , hair and nails.

Symptoms of Under Active Thyroid

Anxiety, panic, bloating and fluid retention, blurred vision, constipation, brittle dry nails, depression, discomfort swallowing, dry eyes(dry eyes can cause the eye to produce extra fluid to try to combat the problem, hence they run or water), dry skin, fatigue, feeling cold, forgetfulness, headaches and migraines, increased infections, joint pain and stiffness, low libido, menstrual problems, sluggish digestion, tingling and numbness in hands and feet, weight gain.

Symptoms of Over Active Thyroid

Anxiety, hunger, dislike of heat, frequent bowel motions, greasy skin, increased libido, increased sweating, insomnia, itchy inflamed eyes, loss of muscle tone, lump in throat when swallowing, mood swings, hair loss, racing heart, shortness of breath, tremor , tendency to flush.

As I have found and from talking to others suffering from either of these conditions, it seems that some of the symptoms can be inter changeable, making it more difficult to diagnose. If you suspect you have a faulty thyroid I suggest you ask for a blood test as this will let you know one way or another. I was lucky that my thyroid hadn't completely bombed out and am able to rectify things with an iodine supplement.

Whether blood tests indicate under or over active thyroid function there are interventions that can help normalize the problem. These range from taking thyroxin or radioactive iodine to surgery.

I feel lucky I have finally found out what the problem is and have an easy treatment plan. It seems to be an area that can be easily over looked when diagnosing due to symptoms being similar to other conditions such as allergy and menopause. As the thyroid is important in many bodily functions it is essential it be eliminated as a possible cause of worrying symptoms. I look so much better than I did with the puffy, staring eyes. I can now look in the mirror without freaking out at what I see.

Foods To Avoid

Some foods are thought to be goitrogens which means they inhibit the thyroid gland from absorbing iodine. These foods include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage (especially if raw), peanuts, walnuts, corn carrots, pears and soy products like tofu, soy milk and soybeans. So avoiding these foods can help in your quest to encourage better thyroid health.

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Comments 44 comments

Conservative Lady profile image

Conservative Lady 4 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

Very interesting and thorough review of thyroid conditions. I am glad you have found relief from your symptoms. I too have many of those symptoms but mine truly are related to allergies. I wish you continued good health.

tebo profile image

tebo 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

Hi Conservative Lady and thanks for your comments. That is why thyroid so often gets overlooked. In my case my protruding, staring eyes should have been the clue. Some Doctors don't like you suggesting a diagnosis. My eyes still stream first thing in the morning, but the puffiness and staring are so much better. Hope you manage to control some of your symptoms. Thanks for reading.

CyberShelley profile image

CyberShelley 4 years ago

Hello, Thank you for writing this very interesting hub, it has helped me decide I don't actually have an under active thyroid. Glad you joined Hubpages and look forward to reading more from you! Voted Up, interesting and useful

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Thanks for sharing your personal story. I am glad you are doing better now. Thankfully I do not have thyroid issues. It is good to have this information though so it can be passed on to others. You did well explaining it.

tebo profile image

tebo 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

Hi CyberShelley. Thanks for reading my hub and commenting. Glad to hear all is well with your thyroid.

tebo profile image

tebo 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

Hi Hyphenbird. Thanks for your comments. Yes I thought it was important for people to be aware of thyroid symptoms so they don't end up going down the wrong road of treatment like I did.

Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

Very, very interesting.. thank you for sharing. I have just about all the symptoms above that you listed for hypothyroid... and last 3 tests have tested at very low end of normal yet the doc refuses to acknowledge there is a problem. I suspected I had a problem after changing my eating habits drastically over a period of a month and only lost about 2 lbs- in a MONTH. It's crazy.. I hope to find a good doctor at some point to get to the bottom of it. Wonderful hub, thank you for sharing your experience.

tebo profile image

tebo 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

Hi Jamie - my doctor kept saying I must stress you do not have hypothyroidism, but we will put you on iodine to prevent it becoming under active. Iodine increases metabolism. My mothers doctor told me to have a thyroid test when he saw my eyes - His wife tests within the range, but has all the symptoms - she takes iodine and loves it. Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage should be limited especially raw as they interfere with thyroid function. As should peanuts, soy products like tofu pretty much all the things I was eating. Good luck with sorting things out. I have talked to the chemist about taking iodine and he said the low dose I take is very safe - I take 150 mcg per day _ the recommended daily allowance. Thanks for reading.

Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

THANK YOU for this valuable information, especially about the foods that interfere with thyroid function.. I honestly had NO idea. I'm going to see if I can find a good Iodine supplement as well :)

tebo profile image

tebo 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

Hi Jamie - That's great. I am going to have another blood test soon and will let you know how my levels are going with the iodine.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Hi tebo, I feel for you, I wrote about my thyroid too, and what a nightmare it is. It does sound as though you have Graves Disease, which is an imbalance of the thyroid. This means it's a bit like a seesaw, it can go too high, then too low and then back up again. I know. I am glad you sorted it out, and it does seem to me that Dr.s these days no nothing, a doctor of mine gave me tablets for a really high thyroid, and I ended up in hospital with really bad mialgia, pain in my legs, arms back etc, in fact I was literally screaming in agony, it was like a car crash victim without help. I had to read a book, diagnose myself and ask the doc for different tablets which did in fact work then! great hub, and so helpful to others going through this, and yes I remember the swollen eyelids and under eyes too. nell

tebo profile image

tebo 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

Hi Nell, thanks for reading. Its fairly common isn't it - thyroid malfunction. I was a bit concerned it was Graves disease, but I don't think it is - I think that's more at the over active end. My eyes don't protrude any more or have that staring look. I think once you've got Graves disease it can only be fixed with surgery, but I could be wrong. BUT I did look like I had it, that' s for sure.

rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Very useful and interesting hub and thanks for sharing your observations . Glad your throid condition is under check.

Voted up/useful and shared.

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

This is very timely and helpful as I am blubbering with allergies. I am so glad that I recently had blood work done to rule out thyroid problems. Helpful and useful!

BlissfulWriter profile image

BlissfulWriter 4 years ago

You should read the book "Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? When My Lab Tests Are Normal" by Datis Kharrazian. 80% of all thyroid disorders are autoimmune in nature. So you should seek out someone that specialize in that area rather than a primary care physician that is just going to prescribe iodine. Sometime iodine supplements can make the situation worst and sometimes it can make it better. One can not tell unless one does more in-depth testing interpreted by a specialize. You can not tell with just one blood test. There are a variety of test that reveals different things. Some test are TSH, Total T4, Free T4, Free Thyroxine, Free T3, Reverse T3. And test for Thyroid Antibodies to rule out or confirm autoimmune condition.

cloverleaffarm profile image

cloverleaffarm 4 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

If you do not have your "thyroid antibodies" checked, tests can still come out normal, or near normal. Be sure to have your doctor check for these. If he is only testing the T3 and T4, he is missing out on one key illness....Hashimoto's, which is an auto immune disorder. Test will show normal, unless you have the antibodies test done. Be Well!

tebo profile image

tebo 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

Hi rajan jolly. Thanks for reading and your nice comments. Yes I hope it is under check. Thanks again.

Hi rebeccamealey - thanks for reading. Glad you don't have thyroid problems, but allergies are a pain too aren't they?

Hi BlissfulWriter - That book sounds interesting and I shall look for it. I had TSH and Free T4 tests. My first tests were TSH - 9.1 and Free T4 - 16. The next test three months later TSH - 10.8 and Free T4 - 0.5. My latest test - another three months on TSH - 17.1 and Free T4 -.01. I think the .01 is a little low now, but most of my symptoms have faded. I have been thinking about seeing someone who knows what they are talking about instead of my GP to decide what to do next. Thanks for your helpful advice.

Hi cloverleaffarm - Thanks too for your advice. As I mentioned above I only had the TSH and Free T4 tests done. Now that my results are back to normal I have cut back the iodine, because I am worried I might go the other way, but I think I should find a specialist. Thanks for commenting.

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 4 years ago from the Ether

Very well written. Voted up and useful.

tebo profile image

tebo 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

Thanks kittythedreamer for your very nice comments. Glad you like it.

moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

One of our sons had his thyroid removed last month. Our daughter had hers removed in April. I went to the doctor a week ago for sickness and she said my thyroid was swelled. Strange for all three of us to have problems. Voted up on your hub.

tebo profile image

tebo 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

Wow that is amazing. I have read that if you have thyroid problems that your siblings etc may have the same problem. The thyroid tends to bomb out with some of us unfortunately. Thanks for reading and commenting.

KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 4 years ago from Sunny Florida

My doctor also missed the thyroid disease. I finally had to change doctors to get a diagnosis. I am sorry it took so long for them to diagnosis you and glad that you have finally found relief. Up, useful, and interesting.

tebo profile image

tebo 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

It seems amazing to me now how my doctor could have dismissed it with the poppy eyes I had. Every man and his dog seems to know that's a thyroid symptom. Obviously its quite common to miss it from your comments. Thanks for reading.

sarahshuihan profile image

sarahshuihan 4 years ago from USA

I'm glad you wrote this hub to share with others, and hopefully your experience will help others. I think that there are so many common symptoms for a lot of different diseases that it might be hard to diagnose. That's probably why people recommend going to another doctor for a second opinion :)

tebo profile image

tebo 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

Hi sarahshuihan. Yes that is the problem with this complaint, it is often over looked. In fact this is the reason I wrote this hub. Thanks for reading.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Hope everything is better for you now? nell

tebo profile image

tebo 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

Hi Nell. Yes things are pretty good now. I still have slight bags under my eyes that I never use to have, but the actual eyes are all good - not staring, no double vision and I don't feel weird when I turn my head like I use to!

DDE profile image

DDE 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Very interesting, thanks for sharing your experience, I learned more here about the thyroid gland. voted up!

tebo profile image

tebo 4 years ago from New Zealand Author

Hi DDE thanks for reading and your nice comments,glad you learned something.

divacratus profile image

divacratus 3 years ago from India

I suspect I might be having thyroid problems too. But isn't it kind of scary to know the doc didn't prescribe the tests for you first? We learn a lot through the Internet which somehow makes us the better doctors :)

tebo profile image

tebo 3 years ago from New Zealand Author

Hi divacratus and thanks for commenting. I agree it is scary, and he would have had me on antihistamines forever and a day with no improvement in symptoms. Doctors don't like us finding out stuff on the internet, but they leave us no options at times.

bac2basics profile image

bac2basics 3 years ago from Spain

I was very interested to read this hub as my daughter suffers from under active thyroid and is taking medication for it, but she keeps breaking out in a very bad rash, it happens every day and comes and goes with no rhyme nor reason. She has been allergy tested but the rash is so hit and miss that I don´t think the things she is allergic to are actually what causes it and have asked her to insist that the doctor send her to a specialist or she gets a second opinion, i did this for 3 reasons, the first being that it´s uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing for her, the second that on a blood test visit to see the nurse it broke out and the nurse was shocked and thought it may be her kidneys causing a problem, and the third was my doctor here in Spain refused to prescribe anti histamines because she said they are bad for the heart. I am going to share this hub and also send a link to my daughter. Thank you tebo for this great info :)

tebo profile image

tebo 3 years ago from New Zealand Author

The thyroid unfortunately is a complicated gland when it comes to diagnosis. Too many other things have similar symptoms be they menopause or allergies. You just have to keep researching and asking for tests until you find the answer and alleviate the symptoms. Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope your daughter finds some relief soon.

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 3 years ago from Taos, NM

This is a very important article you have written on thyroid. I have had hyper and hypothyroid problems all my life. They are interchangeable as you point out. I also had to insist on a thyroid blood test as my doctor was dragging his feet. In the meantime I had significant weight gain. Talk about depressed! Now, my thyroid is leveled, but I do have to take a smidgen more synthroid above the normal range to feel normal. It is quite a balancing act and patients really have to keep on their doctors to look into this. Thank you for an enlightening and relevant article!

Healthyannie profile image

Healthyannie 3 years ago from Spain

Hello bac2basics - I think your daughter can be sensitive to a thyroid medication - skin rashes

is a very commom side effect and about 275 people out of a 1000 will develop a skin rash.

Your spanish doctor is right anti histamines can cause an irregular heart beat, and even sudden death syndrome.

tebo profile image

tebo 3 years ago from New Zealand Author

HI suzettenaples and thanks for your very nice comments. I still can't believe my Doctor wouldn't test me for thyroid when people who had no medical training could tell it was thyroid related. The thyroid is quite a responsible gland, but too easily overlooked due to similar symptoms. Thanks again.

KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 3 years ago from Sunny Florida

Many doctors do seem to be reluctant to admit that it may be a thyroid problem. I wonder why. After I started taking medication for an underactive thyroid my symptoms seem to go away. He also keep saying it was allergies.

tebo profile image

tebo 3 years ago from New Zealand Author

My symptoms went away too after taking iodine for borderline underactive, but it was at the very lowest point of the range and I was experiencing symptoms. Hard to understand why Doctors do that although it does seem common. They tend to diagnose allergies or depression or menopause. Just as well we can figure it out for ourselves. Thanks for the comment.

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

Both of my sisters are on meds for thyroid conditions and have been for years. Both had goiters removed as did my Momma.

To date I do not have a problem with mine and hope I never do.

Thanks for sharing this information.

Angels are on the way this morning.

tebo profile image

tebo 3 years ago from New Zealand Author

It does seem to fun in families, though no - one in my family seems to suffer from thyroid problems yet apart from me. Lets hope you keep the problem at bay. Thanks for the comments and sending angels. Lovely.

Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 17 months ago from Oklahoma

Wonderful read. I have had family members with thyroid conditions, so I know just how hard they can be to diagnose.

tebo profile image

tebo 17 months ago from New Zealand Author

Thanks Larry. Yes it certainly took time to convince my Doctor but my symptoms have all improved or gone since I have been on thyroid medication. Thanks for reading.

Arlene 4 months ago

Wow Im so thankful that I had read your article I have struggling finding the cause of my sudden allergies,it started last year but now its gradually increases that I have to take anti allergy pills now the litlle muscle n joint pain im experiencing. For 10yrs I have been monitoring my thyroid gland thru ultrasound and lab test (T4 TSH T3 ) and they show normal until now. But I never take any thyroid supplements bec the test shows all normal. And now all of a sudden its showing all these symptoms, Im so glad I have tead about this allergy article of yours. Now I need more test to further understand what thyroid problem I have. Thanks alot.

tebo profile image

tebo 3 months ago from New Zealand Author

Hi Arlene and thanks for reading. Sorry I haven't replied to your comment before this. I thought I had and just found out I hadn't! I'm glad you found my hub helpful and I hope you are managing to control your symptoms. My allergies continue to be a problem especially around hayfever season.

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