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What are symptoms of elevated TSH levels?

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Quick Answer

Elevated thyroid-stimulating hormone levels, a condition that leads to hyperthyroidism, are associated with symptoms such as light sensitivity, visual disturbances, increased heart rate, anxiety and weight loss, according to Lab Tests Online. Other symptoms include hand tremors, difficulty sleeping, weakness, dry skin, weight gain, loss of hair, puffy skin and diarrhea.

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Full Answer

When the body produces high levels of TSH, it normally indicates a problem within the thyroid gland. Low levels of TSH indicate an overactive thyroid gland. TSH tests may be affected in one way or another if the patient is pregnant, has liver disease, suffers from a systematic illness or uses certain drugs, notes Lab Tests Online.

Elevated TSH levels and the resulting hyperthyroidism may lead to ocular problems such as dryness, irritation, puffiness and bulging eyes, notes Lab Tests Online. Individuals with eye problems sometimes appear to be staring due to abnormal eye movements. Colloquially referred to as an overactive thyroid, hyperthyroidism causes an acceleration of the body's functions.

There are several causes of hyperthyroidism, notes Lab Tests Online. The typical cause is Graves' disease, an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system produces antibodies that behave in a similar manner to TSH, thus stimulating the thyroid to overproduce the hormones that control metabolism. Another cause of hyperthyroidism is a small benign tumor on the thyroid that prevents the organ from responding to the body's feedback mechanism. Certain types of tumors can also stimulate the thyroid to overproduction. In pregnant women, hyperthyroidism is typically a response to the production of the human chorionic gonadotrophin, a hormone that aids fetal growth and behaves in a way similar to TSH.

Other causes of hypothyroidism include radiation therapy, autoimmune diseases, thyroid surgery, certain medications, pregnancy, iodine deficiency, pituitary disorders and congenital diseases. Individuals with hypothyroidism tend to feel weak most of the time and may experience constipation, depression, irritability and memory loss. Other symptoms associated with hypothyroidism include muscle cramps, abnormal menstrual cycles, decreased libido, cold intolerance, dry, rough pale skin, weight gain or difficulty in losing weight.

TSH tests are conducted to determine whether the thyroid gland is functioning properly, notes WebMD. These tests are also used to track the progress of individuals under treatment for hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, a condition resulting from abnormally low TSH levels in the body.

After diagnosis, doctors will recommend the use of synthetic thyroid hormone called levothyroxine. This oral medication is aimed at reversing the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism. Individuals may start observing improvement within 2 weeks of taking the medication.

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