Thyroid Disease, Osteoporosis, and Calcium

Medical Author: Ruchi Mathur, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

A very interesting patient came into my office last month. She was a fair, slender woman of Northern European background. In her mid 40's, she had already broken several bones (two of her wrist and one of her leg). Her primary doctor was appropriately concerned and had her evaluated with a bone density scan, which showed significant osteoporosis. Although she was slight and Caucasian (both risk factors for osteoporosis), there was no significant family history of fractures of which she was aware.

While the initial referral of this patient was for management of her bone disease, we started talking about her general health. She complained of extreme fatigue, unintentional weight loss, and a sense of heat intolerance. Her bowels were often loose and she had trouble sleeping. She was taking thyroid hormone replacement medication because she had had her thyroid removed years ago for a goiter. Because of an awareness of the association between excessive thyroid hormone and osteoporosis, I checked this patient's thyroid function. As I suspected, she was hyperthyroid due to taking an excessive amount of thyroid medication.

Thyroid disease falls into 2 major functional categories; conditions that produce too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) and conditions that produce too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism). In general, excessive replacement of thyroid hormone in medications can also result in signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism. One of the problems that occurs when the thyroid is too active, or when too much thyroid hormone medication is given, is bone loss from osteoporosis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/1/2014