Many people have to deal with other chronic health conditions, along with a cancer diagnosis. Sometimes this makes treatment for thyroid cancer patients somewhat tricky. I will use myself, as usual, as an example. I have just been diagnosed with hypertension. It should not have come as a complete surprise, because both of my parents had hypertension. A doctor once told me, " Well, it is just a matter of time until you develop hypertension, since both of your parents had the disease." I was hoping that would not be the case. My diagnosis sort of came along at a bad time, though. My endocrinologist is " adjusting" my thyroid dose again ( those of you without a thyroid gland know EXACTLY how that goes), so I am feeling a little off because of that. Add to that, trying different medications and dosages of anti-hypertensives to try to get my blood pressure under control. I am not having a good time right now- and I do not know if alternating two different doses of Levoxyl or the new blood pressure medications are making me feel poorly.
On the positive side, I was able to stop one blood pressure medication, that actually caused some swelling. My physician added a diuretic type medication for my blood pressure and this seems to be working. I have lost seven pounds of (fluid?), I would assume. That is a definite plus in my book. I am fortunate that my husband can take my blood pressure a few times a day, so I can see if the anti- hypertensive medication is working. The first medication that I tried was a beta-blocker. At first, it seemed to help with my blood pressure, then stopped working. And there was that fluid retention problem. The second medication is a diuretic, as I said. This one is controlling my blood pressure, as well as reducing some fluid in my body. I do feel light headed and a little tired. I am trying to incorporate some potassium rich foods into my diet, as a diuretic is not picky- they kick out the good potassium with the bad sodium.
I know from my work in health care, as well as my own personal experience, that it will take a few weeks or so to get everything sorted out. I am trying to be patient with myself, rest a little more and drink more fluids. Sounds counter-intuitive, but with a diuretic, one does not want to get dehydrated. I drink lots of water anyway, but I am trying to add more. That and some orange juice ( for potassium).
And there is the matter of when do I take my medications? My Levoxyl ( thyroid medication) comes first thing in the morning, as it has to be taken on an empty stomach, with no other medications. Then I wait an hour, and take my blood pressure medication. I can not take the diuretic at night, for obvious reasons. This would be more difficult if I was still working. I am thankful that I am retired- for more than one reason!
The dosage of thyroid medications are weight based, along with other factors. If I lose more weight, my endocrinologist may have to adjust my Levoxyl dose even further down. I am pretty sure, from what I read on many thyroid cancer websites, many others, besides myself, do NOT like to go down on our thyroid medication dosages. Along with the tiredness, a reduced dose can cause other hypothyroid symptoms- which are very unpleasant. My endocrinologist is very good about listening to how I am feeling as well as looking at my lab work. We talk about my dosage: the numbers, how I am feeling, what I am comfortable with, what she is comfortable with and then come to an agreement on a dose that we both feel will work. I would recommend that thyroid cancer patients, or any thyroid patient- hypo or hyper, find a doctor that is open to discussion and compromise. I like to think that my doctor and I are working as a team to ensure my good health care.
When I was researching hypertension, I came across a very interesting supposition. Hypertension could be considered an autoimmune disorder! I had not heard of this theory before, although it makes perfect sense to me. In an article written by Steven Crowley, MD at Duke University, the author states: " some novel experiments illustrate that immune cells and inflammatory mediators can influence blood pressure precisely by impacting vascular function and renal sodium handling." This article is in the current posting of Kidney News Online, should anyone desire to read the entire article.This is exciting because it potentially opens the door for new treatment options for hypertension in patients with autoimmune diseases.
I had hashimotos's disease ( an autoimmune thyroid disorder) before I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. My parents both had hypertension, as I stated earlier, and my dad had thyroid disease. Is there a link? I certainly think so, but more research will have to be done before this is accepted by the medical community.
There are other medical conditions that thyroid cancer/thyroid patients have to deal with simultaneously. This is a challenge, as many factors have to be considered. Being informed about your medications- how to take them, possible side effects, when to take them, and drug interactions, to name a few things, is extremely important. Being your own best patient advocate and having a good relationship with your physician, pharmacist, as well as other health care providers is a big step in the right direction.