Exhausted, moody and forgetful? Gaining weight without changing your diet or exercise routine? Still asking your doctor: Why is it that I’m tired, but I can’t sleep?
These symptoms may indicate an issue with your thyroid.
The thyroid system plays a critical role in your metabolism. Along with insulin and cortisol, your thyroid hormone is one of the big three hormones that control your metabolism and weight.
That little butterfly-shaped organ in the base of your neck regulates the hormones that control so many of your biological functions: energy, metabolism, body temperature, sleep, sexual function, digestion, as well as hair and nail growth.
As a major regulator of cellular metabolism, the thyroid gland influences an astonishing number of physiologic processes with include development and growth, thermogenesis, lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, cardiac myocyte activity, reproduction and cognitive functioning. This important gland is characteristic of vertebrates, and its secretions presumably affect every cell in the body, generally increasing metabolic rate. Accordingly, dysfunctional states of the thyroid gland are associated with numerous and fairly non-specific symptoms. Given the non-specific expressions and common occurrence of thyroid disease, concerns about thyroid function are frequently raised by clinicians and patients alike.
What are the Symptoms of Thyroid Imbalance?
If your thyroid gland is having trouble producing the precise amount of thyroid hormone your body functions require, you may struggle with:
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
- Abnormal periods
- Water retention
- Anxiety and irritability
- High blood cholesterol
- Feeling too cold or too hot
- Frequent infections and colds
- Hand numbness
- Neck swelling
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Dry, brittle nails
- Feeling too cold or too hot
By far the most common root cause behind these disruptive symptoms is the thyroid gland’s over or under production of thyroid hormone.
Hypothyroidism vs Hyperthyroidism
Hypothyroidism: Symptoms and Causes
Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid that is unable to produce the amount of thyroid hormones your body requires. It can also lead to weight gain, fatigue, feeling cold, muscle weakness, high cholesterol, joint pain or stiffness, and even depression.
Because your thyroid gland regulates your blood sugar, it directly affects yours hunger and satiety sensation. Along with insulin and leptin resistance, low thyroid hormone can make losing weight very difficult.
What Causes Hypothyroidism?
Causes of hypothyroidism include:
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: autoimmune inflammation disrupting the thyroid gland’s hormone production; the most common cause of hypothyroidism
- Surgery: partial or complete removal of the thyroid gland disables thyroid hormone production
Hyperthyroidism: Symptoms and Causes
Hyperthyroidism is the clinical term used to describe a hyperactive thyroid gland that produces more thyroid hormone than your body needs to function.
It can lead to fatigue, hair loss, irritability, unexplained weight loss and excessive sweating.
What Causes Hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism causes include:
- Graves disease: an autoimmune dysfunction that causes overproduction of thyroid hormones
- Thyroiditis: thyroid gland inflammation can stimulate excessive hormone production
- Growths: thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer are less common causes of an overactive thyroid
Most doctors just check something called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and sometimes your free T4 level, which doesn’t give a full picture of the thyroid.
Many doctors think that only a TSH over 5 or 10 is worth treating. Unfortunately, this leaves millions suffering unnecessarily. The newer guidelines of the American College of Endocrinology consider anybody with a TSH level over 3.0 as hypothyroid. While an improvement, practitioners following these guidelines may still miss many people who have normal test results and a malfunctioning thyroid system.
Your thyroid gland may be producing too much or not enough hormones.
There is no one perfect way, no one symptom nor test result, that will properly diagnose low thyroid function or hypothyroidism. The key is to look at the whole picture – your symptoms and your blood tests – and then decide.
The key is the right testing to confirm that a sluggish thyroid is contributing to a stalled metabolism and other problems. Once you know this for sure there are many ways to help correct thyroid problems.
Testing Your Thyroid at the SBMC
At your first appointment a thorough analysis of your symptoms, general health, genetic predispositions, medical history, lifestyle and stress levels will be performed – all which may be contributing to your symptoms. Only then will the diagnostic testing begin.
Tests Carried out
In addition to traditional tests additional testing will be for:
- TH1 dominant interleukins
- TH2 dominant interleukins
- Free T3
- Free T4
- Reverse T3
This in depth testing it crucial. Why? You could have extremely low levels of T4 and T3, and well as thyroid-damaging antibodies, yet still present with a TSH level that’s considered “normal”.
We will also determine whether you have leaky gut syndrome, and detect any gluten or dairy sensitivities. It is also important to optimize levels of nutrients like: vitamin D3, B vitamins like B12, folic acid, ferritin, magnesium, zinc, iodine, and iron.
It’s also crucial to screen for viruses like Epstein-Barr virus and human herpes virus (HHV6), then test your blood for these increased antibodies:
- Anti TPO: detects anti-thyroid peroxidase antibodies mistakenly attacking your thyroid enzymes and thyroid tissue
- Anti TGAb: this antibody targets thyroglobulin, the storage form of your thyroid hormones
Thyroid Optimization Therapy
Replacing your supply and optimizing your thyroid hormone levels is crucial. A careful and patient specific treatment plan will be issued and will revolve around:
- Thyroid balancing supplements
- An autoimmune nutrition plan
- Cellular regeneration