Most of us write off forgetfulness as something that comes with age. However, an alarming new study indicates that frequent memory lapses could indicate a much larger health issue, especially for women.
What is thyroid fog?
Hypothyroidism is a condition that causes sufferers to produce inadequate amounts of certain important hormones. The net effect of this deficiency impacts metabolism the most profoundly.
However, one of the symptoms of the disease is intermittent periods of forgetfulness, called thyroid fogs. Other symptoms include but are not limited to fatigue, cold sensitivity, constipation, dry skin, and unexplained weight gain. Older women endure the condition the most.
The study group was comprised of participants between the ages of 27 and 55 who had previously demonstrated neurological markers of hypothyroidism. Each had their hippocampus compared to a control comprised of healthy subjects.
By the end of the analysis, the authors concluded that the average size of the right hippocampus was approximately 12% smaller in those with hypothyroidism as compared with the controls.
It should be noted that the size of the study group was relatively small, and the authors did not repeat brain measurements after patients were successfully treated with thyroid hormones to determine if their hippocampus volume normalized.
Still, their findings provided sufficient enough preliminary evidence to suggest that hypothyroidism in adults can cause a significant reduction in the volume of the right hippocampus.
“This could explain some of the memory deficits that have been observed in those with hypothyroidism,” the authors wrote in the report.
This is further backed by independently conducted research documenting periods of memory lapses in patients diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.
How thyroid fog feels
“You may feel unmotivated, forgetful, or spacey,” explained Mary Shomon, Thyroid Refresh advisory board member, in a recent media release. “Your memory for names, numbers, and directions could be unpredictable. You may even mix up words or have trouble recalling a common word.”
Severity varies but the worst leaves some patients in a brief state of delirium, while others report long-term anxiety and depression by reason of reoccurring thyroid fog. Sufferers also frequently cite an inability to concentrate on tasks and even conversations.
“Imagine calling your child by the wrong name, forgetting your phone number or ZIP code, or realizing you have no idea where you are going while driving,” Shomon continued. “These frightening memory lapses are common in people with thyroid problems. Thyroid patients call it brain fog, and doctors call it cognitive impairment — either way, it’s an all-too-common thyroid symptom.”
How to treat thyroid fog
Treatment can be challenging because hypothyroidism often gets misdiagnosed. The American Thyroid Association reports that roughly 60% of people with the condition don’t know they have it.
This means that the first and most consequential countermeasure against thyroid fog and all of the complications energized by hypothyroidism is scheduling an appointment with your physician.
“Your doctor should take your medical history, examine your thyroid, and order a complete thyroid blood test panel,” advises Shomon. “If your doctor diagnoses you with hypothyroidism, treatment with a prescription thyroid drug may quickly and easily resolve your brain fog.”