Do you know the telltale signs of hypothyroidism?
The thyroid gland is a small butterfly shaped gland that sits just below the thyroid cartilage. The thyroid can:
It can also tell the body to slow down. Sometimes the thyroid slows down so much that it becomes underactive. When this happens, the thyroid gland does not do its job, and the whole body suffers. This is what is known as hypothyroidism. As common as hypothyroidism is, the detection and treatment of it are getting a second look by doctors.
Below are 5 straightforward signs from your body, telling you to look closer at your thyroid. The endocrine system is a system of glands that release hormones into the bloodstream. Consider your thyroid if you experience:
A major issue has erupted in the medical community. Many doctors are now disagreeing over what tests should be done to check thyroid function. Traditionally, TSH, Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone that is released from the pituitary gland in the brain, would be checked along with the two thyroid hormones it produces, T3 and T4.
However, it has become commonplace to only test for TSH, and that is only one part of a very detailed picture. There are many other mechanisms at work in thyroid health. For example, healthy thyroid activity relies on:
Clearly, with so many pathways available for the production and conversion of thyroid hormones, there are a lot of opportunities for something to go wrong.
Many people are diagnosed with this condition and given thyroid medication. Sometimes, this medication will show improvements in lab analysis as hormone levels fall into normal range. But many people still have symptoms.
Doctors are now investigating why thyroid tests may appear normal, but the thyroid itself may still be dysfunctional.
Seeing a pattern will help you determine if your thyroid medication is properly treating an underactive thyroid, or if more diagnosis is necessary.
1. Edema, which is the abnormal accumulation of fluid beneath the skin. The edema that occurs in hypothyroidism is the “non-pitting” form of edema.
2. Is there persistent weight gain, especially around your torso, that you just can’t lose no matter how frugal you are with calories?
Dr. Roby Mitchell tells us that thyroid hormones help insulin move glucose from blood into the cells. “When thyroid levels are low, more insulin is needed to maintain normal glucose. More insulin means more fat cell hyperplasia, which shows up as increased fat deposition.” (2)
3. Cold hands and cold feet may mean lack of blood flow.
Lack of blood flow to the extremities, like your hands and feet, can also show up as chronic fungal infections. This is because the essential nutrients carried in the blood do not reach the extremities as frequently. Low thyroid activity is associated with too much homocysteine - an amino acid associated with heart disease, poor blood flow, and stiff vasculature.
4. Nagging infections could point to an underactive thyroid.
Dr. Mitchell points out that because beta-carotene depends on thyroid hormones in order to convert into vitamin A, beta-carotene can build up in the body and cause yellow skin, especially in the hands. The official name for this is called carotoderma.
Vitamin A plays an important role in immune system health. What happens when the body cannot convert beta-carotene into vitamin A? The body may become more susceptible to infections, or it simply may not have the strength to kick a bug.
5. Excessive hair loss, painful joints, and other signs of dryness.
The springy molecules mentioned earlier, GAGs, give connective tissue its supportive quality - like collagen and bone. Dr. Mithcell tells us that these molecules are “water magnets”. Without GAGs inside cells, cells cannot retain water. This goes back to the crystalline structure that GAGs give to connective tissue like collagen and bone. What do dry, leaky cells look like to us?
Because there are so many pathways to an underactive thyroid, including autoimmune hypothyroid, be careful when supplementing with iodine. Iodine, while central to the production of thyroid hormones T3 and T4, can actually make some hypothyroid conditions worse. This is because iodine speeds up the production of a thyroid enzyme. If the body has developed autoimmunity to this enzyme, which happens in the case of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, then this will increase the inflammatory cascade. (3)
Using iodine to address a thyroid condition does not take into account autoimmune hypothyroid. It also does not address diet or lifestyle, which can make a tremendous impact on thyroid hormone levels. This is why we recommend working with a qualified health care practitioner, while at the same time:
The thyroid gland plays an important role in:
5 clues that may indicate your thyroid is underactive:
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