Is it Alzheimer’s, Dementia…or Hypothyroidism?

September 4, 2018


Is it Alzheimer’s, Dementia...or Hypothyroidism?Does this sound like you?

Have you experienced any or all of the following symptoms:

• Difficulty concentrating at work or performing basic tasks
• Trouble remembering people’s names or simple words
• Feeling like you’ve lost parts of your memory
• Wondering if you might have the onset of Alzheimer’s or Dementia
• Feeling like you’re in a fog and state of confusion
• Decreased mental sharpness
• Unable to focus
• Short term memory loss
• Feeling depressed
• Feeling like you are losing your mind

All of the above mental symptoms are very common in thyroid disorders. Dr. Broda Barnes, author of “Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness,” reminds us that British studies demonstrated this connection even before the turn of the century.

Thyroid Hormone and Brain Function

Because the brain uses so much energy, individuals with hypothyroidism (slowed metabolism and less energy) tend to experience a decline in their mental sharpness – the brain fog that so many patients describe. It becomes difficult to maintain focus, sharp memory and clarity. Low thyroid function is a common cause of brain fog, depression (1), difficulty concentrating and short term memory loss. Hypothyroidism is often associated with mood disturbances and cognitive impairment, implying that thyroid hormones are critical for normal brain functioning. In particular, hypothyroidism has been associated with several cognitive deficits, including general intelligence, psychomotor speed, visual-spatial skills and memory.(2)

Hypothyroidism is one of the most frequent causes of symptomatic dementia and is recognized as a cause of reversible dementia.  (8) The effectiveness of hormone therapy for improving mental status is well established.(3)  Research shows that patients with hypothyroidism rated themselves worse relative to functional memory, concentration, thinking, alertness, and motivation. Hypothyroidism was associated with a decrease in retrieval from memory. (4) Research also reports an association between TSH elevation and dementia. These findings are consistent with evidence that hypothyroidism is associated with cognitive impairment, and that thyroidal state may influence cerebral metabolism. (5)

Research found in those with hypothyroidism had an evident impairment of some cognitive functions correlated to memory. These results suggest that these patients should be treated with adequate doses of l-thyroxine.(6) Study results revealed that the treated hypothyroid group had significant increased verbal memory retrieval. Results suggest that specific memory retrieval deficits associated with hypothyroidism can resolve after replacement therapy with levothyroxine.(7)

There is growing evidence linking alterations in the endocrine system to the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Clinical hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism have long been recognized as potentially reversible causes of cognitive impairment, and the serum thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level has become a standard screening test for the routine evaluation of patients with suspected dementia. (8)

Terri’s Story

“Although I had begun to notice some significant signs of memory loss 3 years ago, I dismissed them as stress related, until August of 2004. At that time, I wasn’t the only person to recognize my deteriorated memory; my husband, children, employees and mother all began expressing their concerns. I became scared that I was facing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.”  – Terri Jaggers

Terri’s story is a prime example of someone who was suffering from memory loss due to hypothyroidism, but who was initially misdiagnosed by mainstream doctors with the onset of Alzheimer’s.  Memory loss affected Terri’s ability to work and run her business, to socialize with friends and family and to maintain relationships.  She had to cut back on work and outside activities.  She literally thought she was losing her mind and was scared of what life had in store for her. Watch Terri’s story here:

Other Clues That You Could Have Hypothyroidism

If you have concerns about your memory, ask yourself if you also have some of these symptoms:

• Loss of energy (malaise/fatigue)
• Difficulty losing weight
• Weight gain
• Fluid retention
• Enlarged tongue with teeth indentations
• Cold extremities and cold sensitivity
• Cold intolerance
• Hair loss
• Dry skin
• Brittle fingernails with ridging
• Low basal body temperature
• Elevated cholesterol and triglycerides
• Depression or mood swings
• Constipation
• Muscle pain and cramps
• Joint pain
• Tiredness after a full night’s sleep
• Recurrent and chronic infections
• Menstrual irregularities
• Headaches
• Enlarged thyroid gland

Why not find out first if hypothyroidism is causing your memory loss?

Don’t panic and rush to the assumption that you might have the onset of Alzheimer’s, because these symptoms could very well be caused by low thyroid function.   You owe it to yourself to find out if you have hypothyroidism first.

Take our symptom checker health quiz that will help you discover if hypothyroidism could be the cause of your memory loss.

Related Content
Why Your Doc Misses the Hypothyroidism Diagnosis
6 Reasons Hypothyroidism Goes Undiagnosed
10 Reasons You Can’t Live Without Progesterone

1. The Link between Thyroid Function and Depression
2. Verbal Memory Retrieval Deficits Associated With Untreated Hypothyroidism
3. Subclinical Hypothyroidism as a Cause of Reversible Cognitive Deterioration
4. Hypothyroidism and Cognition: Preliminary Evidence for a Specific Defect in Memory
5. Association Between Dementia and Elevated TSH: A Community-Based Study
6. Preclinical Hypothyroidism: Early Involvement of Memory Function, Behavioral Responsiveness and Myocardial Contractility
7. Memory Improvement with Treatment of Hypothyroidism
8. Thyroid Function and the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease: The Framingham Study


Written By: Steven F. Hotze, M.D.

Steven F. Hotze, M.D., is the founder and CEO of the Hotze Health & Wellness Center, Hotze Vitamins and Physicians Preference Pharmacy International, LLC.


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