Hyperthyroidism, Hypothyroidism, and other Thyroid Diseases
Your thyroid controls your metabolism by producing and controlling the output of a few different hormones. A malfunctioning thyroid can cause your metabolism to become unhealthily slow (hypothyroidism) or unhealthily efficient (hyperthyroidism). Either too much or too little thyroid hormone is detrimental to quality of life and long-term health, and there may be a hereditary component. But, whatever you consider to be due to genetics, consider that approximately 91% of what your genes code for is changeable by what you eat. Did you grow up in the same house, eat the same food, and have many of the same exposures?
Hypothyroidism can result in chronic fatigue, weight gain, and intense sensitivity to cold temperatures with cold hands and feet. The best test for hypothyroidism is actually your body and not a blood test.
These things mean that your thyroid is low, Doesn’t matter that your lab test is “normal.” AND, if you are taking thyroid medicine and have these issues… your medicine is not working as well as your body would like.
Hyperthyroidism can make you unable to gain weight, and can make you nervous, anxious and/or overactive. For both types of thyroid disease, there are multiple thyroid conditions that can cause the thyroid damage or disease that’s ruining your metabolism.
Common Causes of Hyperthyroidism
- Iodine Overdose: Too much iodine will cause the thyroid to create too much hormone.
- Graves’ Disease: The entire gland is overactive and chronically creates too much hormone. A common sign of this disease is a goiter, or enlarged gland.
- Thyroid Nodules: If nodules inside the thyroid are overactive, this can also cause an over-production of thyroid hormone.
- Thyroiditis: A chronic swelling of the thyroid that can cause it to release all the hormone it has stored over a short amount of time.
Common Causes of Hypothyroidism
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: This is an autoimmune disorder where the body specifically attacks the tissue of the thyroid gland, damaging its ability to function.
- Iodide Deficiency: Too little iodine can cause your thyroid to stall, making your metabolism slow way down. This is an issue in many developing countries; it’s not a common cause in the US because we’ve iodized table salt.
- Pituitary Damage: The pituitary gland is what tells the thyroid to produce thyroid hormones – both when and how much – via a thyroid stimulating hormone. If the pituitary gland is handicapped, the thyroid is following directions that are incomplete or wrong.
- Removed/Neutralized Thyroid: If your thyroid has been removed, your body no longer has a way to regulate production of thyroid hormone.
- Environmental toxicity where xenobiotic chemicals interfere with your hormone receptors.
Symptoms of a Thyroid Disorder
Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism have opposing symptoms, and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis has its own unique set of symptoms as well.
- Brittle nails and hair
- High resting heart rate
- Thin skin
- Weight loss
Thyroid medications are often the first intervention for hyperthyroidism, which is often misidentified as ADHD in children and young adults. However, occasionally, the only way to stop the thyroid from overproducing thyroid hormone is to surgically remove it or kill it with radioactive iodine, and then implement hormone therapy.
- Cracks in the corners of your fingers by the nails
- Dry skin, especially your heels
- Fingernails chip, crack, peel
- Memory loss
- Thinning and losing fallen-out hair
- Weight gain despite diet and exercise
Many people with low thyroid are prescribed Synthroid or levo-thyroxine to treat their hypothyroidism. While this is the ‘standard of care,’ for many it leaves their body low on thyroid hormone.
If you have an underactive thyroid and your doctor has prescribed levo-thyroxine but your symptoms continue, it means you are still low in thyroid hormone. Most likely, it also means that your prescribed medication is not working as well as your body would like.
So, if you have 2 or 3 or these issues, your body has already let you know that you are hypothyroid. The only reason you need a thyroid test is to make sure your levels are not elevated, and it is safe to prescribe you thyroid medication.
Signs of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis:
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is by far the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the US, affecting around 14 million adults every year. It’s a usually painless, slow process where your body codes your thyroid gland as an enemy and slowly destroys its structure and ability. Because it’s an autoimmune disorder, symptoms occur throughout the body. Sometimes, the disease will remain at a low, stable level for a long time, so you may not even notice at first.
- Brittle hair and nails
- Hair thinning
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Irregular and/or heavy menstrual cycle
- Mild weight gain
- Puffy face/poor lymphatic drainage
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is treated with the same methods as other thyroid disorders. You can tell your hypothyroidism is caused by Hashimoto’s if the blood tests come back with low TSH and/or TH levels as well as an abnormal amount of antibodies. It’s often easy to detect Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis early, and since it is such a slow process, surgical removal of the thyroid gland is often a last resort after long-term treatment. The first treatment is often to change your food to a totally non-inflammatory diet. Then there are herbal medicines and intravenous treatments. If conventional medicine is not working for you, check out the Blatman Health and Wellness Center.
Tests for Determining and Diagnosing Thyroid Diseases
To get a more complete picture of what is going on in your body it can be important to check levels of:
- Total T4
- Free T4
- Total T3
- Free T3
- Reverse T3
Unfortunately, doctors are taught that all they need to measure is TSH. Be informed… If you have most of the hypothyroid symptoms, a normal TSH is pretty meaningless. The pituitary gland can send as many work orders to the thyroid as it wants; if the thyroid itself is hobbled and underactive, it simply won’t keep up with the demand. So, TSH levels alone are not an effective way to determine the presence or absence of a thyroid disease. AND, TSH does not take into account the effect of xenobiotic chemicals in our environment.
If you’re suffering from symptoms of a thyroid disorder, the best assumption doctors can make is that your thyroid levels are low, until they are proven to be high. If your levels measure normal, they are still too low for your body to operate correctly.
Blood tests can be tricky to interpret, because your labs can come back in the normal range and you can still have hypothyroidism. Lab tests reveal levels of thyroid hormone in your blood. This hormone now needs to circulate and touch receptors on cells throughout your body to create their designed effects.
Not only do you need enough of the hormone, you also need working receptors on your cells. Unfortunately, there are lots of things in our environment and in our food that make our receptors not work as well. Therefore, it is entirely possible that your body needs a higher level of hormone to activate your receptors properly.
An abnormal baseline body temperature can also be a sign of thyroid disease. Normal body temperature is considered to be 98.6°. If you typically run at 97, then your ‘normal’ is actually ‘a quart low.’ And 97 is never normal.
The answer to why is low an issue can be found in the biochemistry and chemical reactions needed to run the systems of our biology. If our billions of chemical reactions were forced to occur naturally, many would never happen, and most would happen too slowly. Therefore, most chemical reactions in our body are catalyzed by enzymes. These enzymes are designed to facilitate chemical reactions at a lower temperature than what would be required if the enzymes were not present. And the optimal operating temperature for most of our enzymatic reactions happens to be 98.6°. Therefore, if you are running at 97, all of your chemical reactions occur slowly.
In addition to a lower temperature, you will also not heal as fast, you’ll be fatigued, you can get depressed, and other bodily systems may start to malfunction.
Getting Back on Track: Holistic Therapies for Thyroid Disease
Fortunately, there is a way to reset your body temperature to 98.6. The process may take about 3 months and can be complicated, but health and wellness doctors specialize in creating comprehensive treatment programs that include lifestyle changes. Our body is affected inside and out by environmental toxins and toxic chemicals in processed foods. These can build up in the body and cause all kinds of damage, and hormone irregularities are one result of a thyroid system disrupted by external and internal toxicity.
If your life is complicated by a thyroid disease, you don’t have to settle for pharmaceuticals that only help half of the symptoms. If you are looking for some common sense answers, and solutions to your symptoms that alleviate the cause and prevent further complications, give us a call to make a consultation appointment today.