What are the symptoms?
Thyroid disease can lead to many non-specific symptoms including fatigue, weight gain, dry skin, thinning hair, heavy or irregular periods, depression or anxiety. The thyroid gland functions as the energy regulator for your whole body, like the thermostat in your home.
Here are the top 5 things you need to know about your thyroid so your thyroid condition doesn’t get missed:
1. THYROID SYMPTOMS AFFECT MANY DIFFERENT SYSTEMS OF YOUR BODY
If you experience any of these symptoms, your thyroid may be the culprit:
- Cold intolerance
- Chronic constipation
- Depression or anxiety
- Weight gain, even though you are eating the same amount of food
- Hoarse voice
- Infertility, miscarriage or post-partum depression
- Period problems (heavy periods, PMS, painful periods)
- Brain fog
- Swelling or puffy eyes
- Hair Loss or brittle hair
- Elevated cholesterol
2. YOUR THYROID NEEDS VITAMINS, TOO!
Your main thyroid hormones are TSH, T4 and T3. T3 is the most active form of thyroid hormone and directly communicates with your cells. Your body needs to be able to convert T4 into its active form of T3 for your cells to use it efficiently. Without proper nutrients, that conversion won’t happen. Make sure you eat a diet high in foods with essential micronutrients (nutrients our body can’t make on its own) to get adequate levels of selenium, and zinc, which can be found in some foods, including brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds.
3. THYROID DISEASE IS OFTEN UNDER DIAGNOSED
Standard blood tests typically only measure your TSH levels when a thyroid problem is suspected. We see it in our clinic all the time – our patients don’t feel well, but their thyroid test (TSH only) shows that everything looks normal. The problem is that TSH is the hormone that comes from your pituitary gland in your brain and acts as a messenger to tell your thyroid to start making hormones to go out to the cells in your body. Just because your TSH is within the (very wide) normal range, doesn’t mean your thyroid is doing its job properly. And this is how thyroid problems get missed.
At Whole Medicine, we often check the following labs:
- Free T3
- Free T4
- Thyroid Antibodies
- And sometimes Reverse T3
These tests give us a more complete picture of what may be causing your symptoms and the steps we need to take to correct them.
4. HIGH CHOLESTEROL MAY BE A SYMPTOM OF A LOW FUNCTIONING THYROID GLAND
We often see patients in our practice with high cholesterol, but beyond diet (and no, not cholesterol in your diet), where does that high cholesterol come from? Your thyroid may be the culprit of high cholesterol, and improving your thyroid function can improve your cholesterol numbers as well. Treat the cause is one of the main tenets of a Naturopathic Doctor, and this is a prime example of how we do that.
5. IF YOU HAVE A LOW FUNCTIONING THYROID (HYPOTHYROID), AN AUTO-IMMUNE DISEASE MAY BE THE CAUSE
Many people don’t know that hypothyroidism has a cause, we think it’s something we just develop and have to take a pill for. Beyond the vitamin deficiencies discussed above, the most common cause of hypothyroid disease is an auto-immune disease called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. This means that your immune system is attacking its own thyroid and may lead to progressively more damage and slower thyroid function. Once a thyroid patient is properly diagnosed using the tests we listed above, we can work with our patients to slow down and maybe even reverse this disease process to protect the thyroid. We strongly recommend that all hypothyroid patients are tested for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis because there is something you can do about it!
A Different Approach
If you have thyroid problems or suspect that you do, first get tested, and then work with your Naturopathic Doctor to develop an individualized plan for your needs! Medications aren’t always needed, but they can be very helpful in some cases. A proper diagnosis will be the key to your treatment plan and creating your healthiest body and mind!
Dr. Kealy Mann, ND & Dr. Chelsey Corrigan, ND