Diseases affecting the thyroid gland have unfortunately become a common condition affecting millions of people. Experts estimate that up to 20 million Americans (about 12% of the U.S. population) have some form of thyroid disease with 60% being completed unaware they are affected. Women are five to eight times more likely to suffer from a thyroid condition. Hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid function) is more common than hyperthyroidism (over-active thyroid function)1. Due to the high prevalence of thyroid disease, it’s wise to be educated on the signs and symptoms that indicate a dysfunction of this vital gland.
Here are some brief facts about the thyroid and why it is so significant for optimal health and wellness.
- The thyroid is a gland located in the lower-middle part of the neck and is shaped like a butterfly.
- The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system and produces hormones that help regulate the body’s metabolism and creation of energy at the cellular level.
- Every cell in the human body contains thyroid hormone receptors, indicating the necessity of adequate thyroid hormone production and conversion.
- Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid underproduces hormones, the most common cause is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (an autoimmune disease of the thyroid).
- It is estimated that 80-90% of individuals diagnosed with hypothyroidism have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis1.
Hypothyroidism can cause a vast array of symptoms and health problems. First let’s cover the well-known symptoms of hypothyroidism2
- Slowed metabolism
- Weight gain without trying, difficulty losing weight
- Hair loss (including thinning of the outer third of the eyebrows)
- Cold hands and feet
- Fatigue, low energy
- Requiring more sleep more than usual
There are also symptoms that may seem completely unrelated to the thyroid, but often indicate low thyroid hormone levels within the body2
- Elevated cholesterol
- Inflamed liver, elevated liver enzymes
- Brain fog, poor concentration
- Depression, anxiety, or mood swings
- Changes in bowel habits, typically constipation
- Low libido
- Inability to sweat
- Dry skin
- Hormone imbalance, infertility, miscarriages
- Slowed heartbeat
I remember when I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto’s (which I talk all about HERE), I had many of the lesser known symptoms like high cholesterol, elevated liver enzymes, anxiety, and brain fog. Once I was able to get my thyroid hormones to optimal levels, almost all of these symptoms resolved. Pretty cool right?
It is important to note that the well-known and lesser-known symptoms of low thyroid function are similar or may overlap with other disease states or conditions. If you suspect you have a sub-optimal functioning thyroid, TEST don’t GUESS. A comprehensive thyroid panel is the best way to assess your thyroid’s health.
Request the following labs from your Physician: TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, Thyroid Peroxidase Antibody (TPO Ab), and Thyroglobulin Antibody (TgAb)
If you are unsure how to interpret your results or your Physician is unwilling to order the labs above, let me help! I frequently order comprehensive thyroid panels for my clients, discuss the meaning of their results, and guide them on taking the necessary steps to support their thyroid gland naturally.
Don’t settle for anything less than optimal! If you have noticed one or many of the symptoms discussed in this article, it is time to take action and assess your thyroid’s health. Knowledge is power and testing can be the first step on your healing journey.
1. “General Information/Press Room.” American Thyroid Association. https://www.thyroid.org/media-main/press-room/
2. Myers, A. M.D. (2016). The Thyroid Connection. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.