Restore Balance and Your Quality of Life When Thyroid Issues Strike
We all lead busy lives and everyone experiences stress and fatigue to some degree. But when do you know if it’s more than a busy week or stress at work that is making you feel tired all the time, Exhaustion, and even body aches, headaches or weight gain or loss could actually be a sign you’re your thyroid needs some attention.
What Is The Thyroid?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits low on the front of the neck. This small gland plays a big role in regulating your metabolism, your body’s ability to break down food and convert it to energy. The thyroid produces two important hormones, T3 and T4, and when there is too much or too little of the hormones being produced (hyper or hypothyroidism), your thyroid’s responsibility to also regulate heart and digestive function, muscle control, bone maintenance as well as control things like hair and skin texture, body temperature, gut health and even sleep, is adversely affected.
10 Common Signs of Thyroid Problems
- You’re tired all the time. When the thyroid isn’t functioning at 100% or the hormone levels are off, your energy level plummets.
- You’ve gained or lost weight without changing your diet or exercise regimens.
- You experience body aches or joint pain, but aren’t sick.
- You can’t sleep (insomnia) or experience disruptions to your normal sleep cycle even though you feel tired.
- Your hair texture has changed and/or your skin looks and feels different (dry skin or discoloration).
- You experience heart palpitations.
- Depression, mood swings, and/or anxiety starts to get the best of you.
- You have difficulty regulating your body temperature; you are either too cold or too hot all the time.
- Your menstrual cycles change and you are not going through menopause.
- You experience miscarriage (sometimes multiple) and/or fertility issues.
The thing with the thyroid is that symptoms are so variable. And, because all of the body’s hormones work together, a problem with your thyroid might not be the primary cause of some or all of your symptoms. In fact, what we typically find is that rarely are all of these symptoms just a thyroid issue; they are usually related to other issues in the body that we test for, including poor gut health, inflammation, and food sensitivities.
How are Thyroid Problems Diagnosed?
In many patients, usually women, many of these symptoms are an indication that something is amiss with the thyroid. We begin with blood work that measure the levels of T3 and T4 thyroid hormones in the system. In many practices, physicians only use the T4 level as an indicator of a thyroid problem, but we also measure the T3 hormone level, which is the more active thyroid hormone. We also look for thyroid antibodies to see if the body is having an autoimmune thyroid issue. There is no perfect test, however, and hormone tests come with wide ranges of normal; one patient may fall within the normal range on a lab test but that might not actually be their true normal.
For this reason, we work closely with each patient to identify their true normal. Everyone is different, of course, and what works for one person might not work for another. For patients with the tell-tale signs of a thyroid issue who fall in the high normal range, we may treat them with the smallest dose of thyroid hormone to see if symptoms improve over time. The key to a diagnosis of an under-or overactive thyroid is working with each patient and their individual symptoms to find what brings them back into balance.
Consider this recent patient case:
A post-menopausal female patient came in to see me for symptoms that included body aches, fatigue, sleep disturbances, weight gain, foggy brain that was negatively impacting her job and ability to think clearly, and very low energy. We tested her thyroid and her hormone levels actually came back within a laboratory defined normal range. For her, however, this level wasn’t normal and neither were her symptoms. So, she was put on a very low dose of thyroid hormone and 90% of her symptoms went away.
While the majority of thyroid conditions are usually a combination of gut issues, other hormone imbalances, food sensitivities and other conditions, listening to what the body is telling us through symptoms is essential to diagnosing thyroid problems and restoring balance and quality to every patient we see.
Find out more about thyroid problems and how our integrative approach to medicine can help you feel like yourself again.