High TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels are indicative of a thyroid disorder. TSH is produced in the pituitary gland and is responsible for stimulating the thyroid's production of triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), which regulate metabolism.
There are several possible reasons for high TSH levels.
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An underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, can cause high TSH levels, says MDhealth
. Hypothyroidism, the most common cause of high TSH levels, occurs when the thyroid isn’t producing sufficient amounts of hormones to regulate the body’s metabolic processes. If a person is already taking thyroid medication to treat an underactive thyroid, then the doctor may increase the dose.
A pituitary gland tumor also can cause high TSH levels, according to MDhealth. While most pituitary tumors are not cancerous, they can wreak havoc on vital processes in the body potentially leading to negative or dangerous side effects.
Other causes of high TSH levels include an enlarged thyroid gland, cancer, or abnormal hormone production.
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Hashimoto’s disease is another cause of high TSH levels, according to LiveStrong
. Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack the thyroid and decrease hormone levels, is one of the most common causes of hypothyroidism. When there are low levels of thyroid hormone, the pituitary gland steps in and produces more TSH to stimulate the thyroid, resulting in high TSH levels.
The Mayo Clinic’s list of possible symptoms of high TSH
include fatigue, weight gain, dry skin, constipation, increased sensitivity to cold, hoarseness, muscle weakness, elevated blood cholesterol levels, muscle aches, heavier than normal or irregular menstruation, thinning hair, slow heart rate, depression, and/or impaired memory. A blood test can detect high TSH levels.
WebMD explains that once high TSH levels
are detected, a medical professional will work to find the cause and decide if treatment is needed.
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