Understanding High TSH – The Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

By  //  April 2, 2022

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TSH, or thyroid-stimulating hormone, is one of the many hormones from the pituitary glands that trigger the thyroid to secrete hormones. The normal TSH value is between 0.4-4.2 mU/L in a healthy person. A person with a TSH value above this will start showing high TSH levels symptoms, indicating the presence of thyroid diseases in the body. 

The measurement level of TSH may vary from one laboratory to the other. However, the upper limit of thyroid levels is rarely above 5 milliunits per liter. 

Symptoms of high TSH 

In a healthy body, the pituitary gland and the thyroid work together to ensure the body has the right amount of hormones at all times. But sometimes, this coordination and synchronization between the two become disrupted, resulting in the thyroid producing too much or too little quantities of hormones. 

This results in either of the two thyroid conditions with different symptoms mentioned below. 

Hypothyroidism

Here, the TSH levels are abnormally high, while the other two thyroid hormones, T3 and T4, are very low.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism

 Constant fatigue 

Shortness of breath

Dry skin and hair loss 

Cold hands and feet with frequent chills

Unexplained weight gain

Irregular or painful menstrual cycle 

Difficulty focusing  

Loss of hearing 

Constipation 

Hyperthyroidism

The level of TSH and T3 and T4 are very high in individuals with hypothyroidism. However, patients with hyperthyroidism are very rare.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism 

Easily fatigued even with slightest physical activity 

Unexplained weight loss with heavy hair loss

Moist and warm skin 

Sweats excessively 

Intolerance to warm temperatures 

Unusually fast heartbeat or tachycardia 

Impatience and easily loses temper 

Trembling of the body 

Diarrhea 

Individuals with high TSH can exhibit either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.

Causes of high TSH 

■ Hypothyroidism: It is due to an underactive thyroid that decreases the levels of TSH in the blood and is the main cause of high TSH. 

■ Pituitary adenoma: Usually a form of benign pituitary tumor, it triggers high TSH.

■ Thyroiditis: Characterized by pain and tenderness in the neck, this is an inflammation of the thyroid that disrupts TSH production, resulting in hypothyroidism.

■ Hashimoto’s disease: A chronic thyroid inflammation and is also a very common cause of high TSH. Hashimoto’s disease is commonly seen in women. 

■ Iodine deficiency: Since the body cannot synthesize iodine, lack of or excessive iodine in the diet can also trigger high TSH.

■ Congenital hypothyroidism: A condition that occurs when the pregnant mother does not take sufficient iodine during pregnancy. 

■ Surgeries: Partial or full removal of the thyroid during surgeries can also result in high TSH in the body. 

■ Radioactive treatment: Cancer patients that undergo radioactive treatment around the neck and head region usually show high TSH levels after their treatment. 

High TSH levels treatment 

The diagnosis of the cause of high TSH decides the right treatment. In most cases, medical treatment is an effective treatment of high TSH. However, in the case of high TSH due to tumors in the pituitary gland, removal of the tumor through microsurgery is the most effective treatment. Moreover, answer the question of “How to reduce TSH naturally?” can be found here

Timely treatment of high TSH is paramount as it can cause a lot of serious health issues, including depression and heart diseases, if left untreated.