Having hypothyroidism does not cause osteoporosis. However, taking too much thyroid medication may increase your risk of developing osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by low bone mineral density, and it is a
If you have hypothyroidism or a thyroid condition, you might wonder how it can contribute to osteoporosis. Hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone) can
We take a closer look at the relationship between hypothyroidism and osteoporosis, including what to know about hypothyroidism symptoms, causes, and diagnosis. We also discuss how to treat the condition without increasing your risk of osteoporosis.
Hypothyroidism is when you don’t have enough thyroid hormone in your blood. It stems from having an underactive thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland found on the lower part of your neck. It helps regulate many of your body’s vital systems and organs.
At this time, there is no clear evidence that hypothyroidism on its own contributes to osteoporosis. According to the American Thyroid Association, there are two main ways thyroid hormones can affect your bones and cause bone loss:
- having too much thyroid hormone as a result of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
- taking too much medication for hypothyroidism, which can cause too much thyroid hormone to circulate in the blood
Risk factors for hypothyroidism
- being over age 60
- being a woman
- having a history of medical issues affecting the thyroid, such as:
- thyroid surgery
- previous radiation treatment on or near your thyroid
- having a family history of thyroid conditions
- having recently been pregnant
- having certain health conditions, such as:
- Celiac disease
- Sjögren’s syndrome
Risk factors for osteoporosis
- a family history of osteoporosis
- renal failure
- Cushing disease
- nutritional malabsorption
- low body weight
- early menopause
In addition, some lifestyle factors, such as smoking and having a sedentary lifestyle, can affect your risk.
For some people, the symptoms of hypothyroidism may be obvious, while for others, symptoms may be more subtle. Symptoms tend to increase with time and may vary among people.
Some of the
If your doctor finds that you develop hyperthyroidism symptoms as a result of taking this medication, they will adjust the dose.
After these tests, you will continue to be monitored for signs of hyperthyroidism, usually
If you do develop hyperthyroidism as a result of your medication, your doctor will discuss next steps with you. They can also suggest tips to protect and strengthen your bones in order to prevent osteoporosis.
Note that when osteoporosis is diagnosed and treated promptly,
In order to provide a hypothyroidism diagnosis, a doctor will discuss your symptoms, take a medical and family history, do a physical exam to look for signs of the condition, and have you undergo bloodwork.
The following blood tests are used to look for hypothyroidism:
Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test
The TSH test measures how much thyroxine (T4) hormone is present. TSH is produced by the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of your brain. It’s responsible for regulating how much hormone is released by the thyroid.
Thyroxine (T4) test
The T4 test measures thyroxine, which helps your body with growth and metabolism.
What does this diagnosis mean for osteoporosis?
If you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism, you will likely be put on medication to help your body make more thyroid hormone. Your risk of osteoporosis only increases if you take
If you are taking thyroid medication, a doctor will carefully monitor your medication and conduct routine bloodwork to make sure it is the right dose for you. Though, you may already suspect that your thyroid levels are not in balance since you may be having symptoms such as fatigue, racing heart, or others.
What are other side effects of hypothyroid medication?
If you are experiencing any of these side effects, contact your doctor to adjust your medication.
What medication is used to treat hypothyroidism?
What does thyroid hormone do?
Thyroid hormone helps regulate how energy is used in your body, keeps your metabolism running smoothly, and contributes to the functioning of your heart, muscles, and brain.
Having high levels of thyroid hormone in your body — whether from hyperthyroidism or taking too much thyroid medication — can speed up bone turnover rates, which can cause bone loss, decreased bone density, and bone fractures.
If you have a thyroid condition and are taking thyroid medication, discuss your risk of osteoporosis with your doctor.
In addition, be sure to work with your doctor to determine the right dose of medication for you and notify them if you begin to experience symptoms of too much thyroid hormone, such as a racing heart and trouble sleeping.
By identifying too much thyroid hormone and adjusting your medication, you and your doctor can help reduce your risk of osteoporosis.