Maintaining proper amounts of thyroid hormone in the body is essential to feeling like yourself!
Thyroid hormone is the goldilocks hormone! Having too little or too much thyroid hormone floating in the body can have negative effects.
Hyperthyroid, which is an overactive thyroid, is when your thyroid secretes too much thyroid hormone. This supercharges your body in the wrong way, causing anxiety, panic, and other issues.
Hypothyroid is the more common problem, which is when your thyroid is underactive. Too little thyroid hormone leaves you lethargic and can result in other side effects like weight gain.
Did you know that out of every 1000 Americans 8 have overt hypothyroidism and 30 have subclinical hypothyroidism?
Signs and symptoms of an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
Suspect you might have an underperforming thyroid? Here are the most common signs and symptoms:
- Skin problems, acne, hair loss or brittle nails
- Mood issues or disorders – frequent mood swings, anxiety, depression
- Weight gain or inability to lose weight
- Feeling tired and fatigue even after a good night sleep
- Painful or inconsistent periods, PMS, low libido
- Constipation and problems with digestion system
- Inability to concentrate well, poor memory, brain fog
- Rheumatoid arthritis, muscle pain, joint pain, tendonitis
- Insomnia, snoring or hoarse voice
- Sensitivity to heat, having low body temperature, cold feet and hands
- Missing the outer third of your eyebrow
Root causes of hypothyroidism
Nine common causes for an underactive thyroid include:
1) Congenital hypothyroidism is when a person’s thyroid isn’t working correctly, starting at birth. Usually, hospitals screen for this.
2) A deficiency in iodine can also trigger hypothyroidism. Iodine is artificially added to unhealthy processed foods. This can sometimes make it hard to get enough iodine on an otherwise healthy diet. Supplements can help fill the gap.
3) If part or all of your thyroid has been removed or killed with radiation, you probably don’t make enough thyroid hormone.
4) Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (lymphocytic thyroiditis) is an autoimmune disorder where your body attacks the thyroid. Your thyroid then stops producing enough hormone as its tissues get damaged. This is one of the most common reasons for an underfunctioning thyroid.
5) A high toxic load overloads your body’s detoxing systems. This often results in autoimmune diseases that can attack the thyroid.
6) Some prescriptions can slow down your thyroid – your doctor or pharmacist can tell you if this is a side effect of any medications you’re taking.
7) Radiation can damage your thyroid. This is most common after cancer treatments around the neck.
8) Postpartum thyroiditis results in an increase and successive drop in thyroid hormone production. This can sometimes occur during the first year after giving birth due to fluctuating sex hormones.
9) Abnormalities in the signaling between your hypothalamus and pituitary glands can result in hypothyroidism, as well as hyperthyroidism.
How to identify hypothyroidism
Did you know that not all thyroid tests are created equal?
- So, you believe you have a thyroid issue and ask your doctor for a test.
- They perform a TSH blood test, and everything comes back “normal”.
- You’re left feeling confused, unheard, and not sure where to turn next.
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone.
You may find yourself going back and forth, and requiring many opinions before receiving the information you require if you’re seeing a conventional doctor.
The type of test ordered, as well as what is considered “normal” for that test play a large role in thyroid diagnosis and treatment. The truth is that a lot of docs will use TSH ONLY as the indicator of your thyroid function.
This is because TSH levels only depict a small portion of what “normal” thyroid function entails.
Here are ALL the thyroid tests that can be given:
Free T4 (Thyroxine) is used by your body to store thyroid hormone for conversion to T3 when needed. Too little, and there won’t be enough to convert.
Free T3 (Triiodothyronine) is the active form of thyroid hormone. Usually, your body converts T4 to T3 when needed, but sometimes this process goes awry.
Reverse T3 is also converted from T4. It does the opposite of T3, which helps slow things down when needed. Too little reverse T3 can result in anxiety and a racing heart.
Thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAb) attack the enzyme that’s used to make thyroid hormone.
Thyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb) reduce thyroglobulin, which is also used to make thyroid hormone.
Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) should also be tested since it’s responsible for modulating thyroid hormone. Here’s the catch. Since it’s used by the hypothalamus and pituitary glands to create thyroid hormone, any issue with these two glands makes a TSH measurement less than useful.
So what can you do to support your thyroid?
Focus on these 6 lifestyle factors to support your thyroid:
Exercise can help improve thyroid function and increase energy levels. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. If you are really struggling with fatigue, it may be better to focus on low impact exercises such as pilates and yoga first.
It’s important to note that while exercise can be helpful for people with hypothyroidism, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting or making significant changes to an exercise routine. The intensity and type of exercise may need to be adjusted based on individual circumstances and thyroid hormone levels.
Get enough sleep
Adequate sleep is important for maintaining proper thyroid function. In particular, studies have shown that sleep deprivation can lead to an increase in the production of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which is produced by the pituitary gland and regulates the production of thyroid hormones. (High TSH = HYPOthyroidism, low TSH = HYPERthyroidism). Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
Chronic stress can disrupt thyroid function. Stress can cause the body to produce higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can interfere with the production and release of thyroid hormones. In addition to disrupting thyroid hormone production, stress can also weaken the immune system, making the body more vulnerable to infections and autoimmune disorders, such as thyroiditis, which is inflammation of the thyroid gland. Practice stress-reducing techniques such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing to help manage stress.
Eat a healthy diet
A well-balanced diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can help support proper thyroid function. Certain nutrients, such as iodine and selenium, are important for proper thyroid function. Iodine is found in foods such as seaweed, seafood, and eggs, and is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones. Selenium is found in foods such as nuts, seeds, and whole grains, and is necessary for the conversion of the inactive form of thyroid hormone (T4) to the active form (T3). Avoid processed foods and sugar, which can contribute to inflammation and hormone imbalances.
Minimize consuming goitrogens
Goitrogens are substances that can interfere with thyroid hormone production. Foods that contain goitrogens include soy, cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts), and nuts and seeds. While these foods can be part of a healthy diet in moderation, it is best to consume them cooked rather than raw.
Avoid overexposure to environmental toxins
Certain environmental toxins, such as heavy metals, pesticides, and industrial chemicals, can disrupt thyroid function. To reduce your exposure to these toxins, try to use natural and organic products whenever possible and avoid areas with high levels of pollution.
Work with a provider
If you’ve been struggling with hypothyroidism and don’t know where to turn, schedule a free introductory call to see how I support clients with hypothyroidism at https://p.bttr.to/3yGXLrA