We have been examining the function and disorders of the thyroid gland, the butterfly shaped gland just below our skin and surrounding our throat. As we get older we become more susceptible to disorders of the thyroid. Unfortunately, most thyroid conditions are not diagnosed early enough to prevent deterioration of the gland and its function. A dead or dying thyroid will impact the quality of one's life. Identifying and preventing damage to this gland will ensure healthy thyroid function.Read Healthy Thyroid Function Part 1, Part 2
Of all the disorders affecting the thyroid gland, the most common cause of thyroid dysfunction is Hypothyroidism. An estimated 1.75 million Americans are believed to have hypothyroidism (low thyroid function).
FACTS ABOUT HYPOTHYROIDISM
- Hypothyroidism is the condition where the thyroid does not produce enough of the thyroid hormones
- Symptoms are diverse because the thyroid hormones regulates the metabolic rate of ALL cells
- Some common symptoms include fatigue, depression, weight gain, lack of motivation, slow recovery from injury, constipation, slow gut motility, cold extremities and low body temperature
- Some visible signs of low thyroid function can include hair thinning, thinning of the outer part of the eyebrow, hair loss, swelling and puffy face, overweight, dry brittle hair, dry skin
- More women are affected by hypothyroid than men
- Hypothyroidism is identified by low thyroid stimulating hormone in the blood
- The most common cause of hypothyroidism in third world is low dietary iron (iron deficiency)
- In the developed world hypothyroidism is mostly caused by an autoimmune reaction of the body that attacks the thyroid
Because of the autoimmune element involved with hypothyroidism in the US, this condition often goes undiagnosed. Autoimmune conditions typically go through flareups of symptoms with times of rest. This will often cause confusion in the patient and lab results may not support reported symptoms.
I will explain in detail about autoimmune thyroid, also known as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, in a later post. The important thing to note at this point is that you can test "normal" for your TSH levels and still have an underlying condition that is slowly progressing. Most often a diagnosis for hypothyroidism or Hashimoto's doesn't happen until there has been significant damage to the thyroid.
Because of the complexity of the thyroid and its conditions, I recommend seeking out the assistance of a functional medicine doctor or practitioner that has experience working with a functional approach to the thyroid. For more information about finding a functional medicine doctor with this perspective, please visit Dr. Kharrazian's Thyroid Book website for more information.
Read Part 4 of Healthy Thyroid Function.
Do you suspect you have thyroid health issues but your doctor tells you your thyroid is fine? A FUNCTIONAL THYROID CHECK is a thorough examination of your thyroid and all its related hormones. Click the button below to sign up for a FREE 15 Minute Thyroid Consultation!