Lupus is a long-term autoimmune condition that leads to inflammation of various organs in the body. It may also affect the thyroid, leading to hyperthyroidism.
A person can have lupus and hyperthyroidism at the same time.
This article explores the connection between lupus and hyperthyroidism, including symptoms, treatment, and when to contact a doctor.
According to the Johns Hopkins Lupus Center, thyroid conditions are common in people with lupus. Different types of thyroid diseases may occur alongside lupus.
Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid
According to research, hypothyroidism is the most common form of thyroid disease in people with lupus. It occurs in
The prevalence of hyperthyroidism in people with lupus is much lower than hypothyroidism in people with lupus. Hyperthyroidism also coexists in people with lupus at higher rates than it does in the general population.
The rate of hyperthyroidism in the general population is about 1.3%. In people with lupus, the prevalence of hyperthyroidism ranges from 3–9%. This suggests a link exists between hyperthyroidism and lupus. This link may exist for a few reasons.
Researchers found that compared with study participants who did not have lupus, the rate of thyroid diseases, including hyperthyroidism, is
Graves’ disease involves overproduction of thyroid hormones, resulting in symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Similar to lupus, Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease. It occurs
Research indicates a link between Graves’ disease and systemic autoimmune diseases such as lupus.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis involves a
Hashimoto’s disease occurs more often in people with lupus and other autoimmune disorders.
Medication to treat lupus does not typically lead to thyroid disease.
However, researchers found that the thyroid medications propylthiouracil and methimazole
Genetics may also play a role in a person developing lupus, hyperthyroidism, and having both occur at the same time.
Since lupus and hyperthyroidism can have symptoms that overlap, someone with lupus may not initially know they have thyroid disease.
According to the American Thyroid Association, symptoms of hyperthyroidism may include:
Having both lupus and hyperthyroidism can increase a person’s risk of developing severe symptoms. For example, research indicates that people with thyroid disease and lupus have an elevated risk of serious complications, including central nervous system and kidney involvement.
Healthcare professionals diagnose lupus
Doctors may diagnose hyperthyroidism using a blood test. With the blood test, healthcare professionals measure the levels of thyroid hormones, including thyroxine, triiodothyronine, and thyroid-stimulating hormones. Higher levels of thyroid hormones and low levels of thyroid-stimulating hormones may indicate hyperthyroidism.
Treatment for hyperthyroidism is the same for people with or without lupus. Doctors may prescribe medication that manages the overproduction of thyroid hormones. They may also recommend a person has surgery.
Healthcare professionals often prefer to prescribe methimazole over other thyroid medications due to a lower risk of side effects. In some cases, medications can lead to the remission of thyroid disease.
Thyroid medications manage or treat hyperthyroidism. However, they do not treat lupus. An individual with lupus will typically need to take additional medications.
Treatment for lupus
- Corticosteroids: These help decrease pain and swelling.
- Antimalarial drugs: These treat lung inflammation and reduce skin rashes, joint pain, and fatigue. A person may find that antimalarial medications help stop flare-ups of lupus.
- BLyS-specific inhibitors: This type of medication reduces certain cells in the immune system that create antibodies common in people with lupus.
- Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: These medications help to treat mild pain and swelling in the muscles and joints.
If a person has symptoms of lupus or hyperthyroidism, they should contact a doctor. According to the
- joint pain
- light sensitivity
- chest pain
- muscle pain
- eye problems
- problems with memory
- blood clotting
- hair loss
- kidney problems
A relationship exists between lupus and thyroid disease, including hyperthyroidism. People with one type of autoimmune disease are at a higher risk of developing another autoimmune disease.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism can develop as a result of an autoimmune disease, such as Graves’ disease. Some symptoms of hyperthyroidism and lupus are similar, which is why a person should talk with a doctor to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.