Do you feel fatigued all the time? It might be a sign that you need to get your thyroid test done. The thyroid gland plays a pivotal role in our body's mechanism. It releases the triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) hormones that regulate the body's metabolic rates and controls heart function, energy levels, body's temperature and more. But ever wondered what happens when your thyroid glands stop functioning?
The condition is called thyroid disease, when the thyroid glands fail to release adequate hormones or release too much or too little hormones. If your thyroid gland produces too much hormones, it's called hyperthyroidism. While if it makes too little hormone, it's called hypothyroidism.
The dysfunction of the thyroid can occur due to several reasons- Hashimoto thyroiditis being one. Hashimoto's Thyroiditis is a condition where the immune system attacks the thyroid glands. Untreated hypothyroidism can lead to several complications such as celiac disease and other health complications over time. So, it is essential to know the common symptoms, causes, and treatment of the disease to detect it as early as possible.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is most likely to occur in females, and the severity of the disease varies from person to person depending on the levels of hormone deficiency. However, the complications tend to develop slowly over the years, and more pronounced symptoms can develop.
For instance, you might be suffering from fatigue or weight gain, and you probably assume it to be due to ageing or a minor deficiency.
- Here are some of the common signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism-
- Weight gain
- Puffy face
- Muscle weakness
- High blood cholesterol level
- Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
- Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
- Heavier than usual or irregular menstrual periods
- Thinning hair
- Slow heart rate
- Impaired memory It’s essential to see a doctor if you have symptoms and get yourself checked. However, if you already have been diagnosed, it's advised that you should do routine checkups for better assessment.
Cause of hypothyroidism
There can be several causes; however, as per Jeevam Health doctor’s, hypothyroidism has seven root causes. Hypothyroidism can occur due to many factors, including- Hashimoto’s disease – H3 One of the leading causes of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s disease or autoimmune Thyroiditis. It might be due to a combination of environmental factors or genes. However, Hashimoto's treatment can reduce the severity of the disease when detected early.
Exposure to environmental toxins
Exposure to environmental toxins such as Fluoride, Lead, Mercury etc can also lead to hypothyroidism. Radiation exposure, medication therapy and contaminants can influence the functioning of the thyroid and lead to hypothyroidism.
A study by Gregory A Brant showed that the Knowledge of the specific factors that trigger autoimmune thyroid disease and their mode of action may also inform risk reduction in the individual patient. These factors are especially relevant for those at increased risk of autoimmune thyroid disease based on family history.
Blood sugar imbalance and insulin resistance
Hypothyroidism can occur due to various hormonal biochemical and nervous system abnormalities, contributing to hypoglycemia. The condition leads to low growth hormone and cortisol responses to insulin-induced hypoglycemia--preventing adequate counter-regulatory protection.
Food intolerance plays a pivotal role in causing hypothyroidism. At Jeevam Health, we have found that 80% of Thyroid patients are sensitive to gluten or dairy. We recommend autoimmune thyroid patients to avoid gluten-rich foods or food with a high glycemic index as they can trigger your immune system or worsen your hypothyroidism symptoms. Eliminating these food triggers assists in the reduction of thyroid antibodies in your body.
Our gut is home to several harmless bacteria called microbiota. But, when the colonies of bacteria in our gut get out of balance, gut dysbiosis occurs. Such conditions can lead to health issues such as leaky gut by damaging the gut lining; when it is affected, it impairs the barrier and causes severe complications.
Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Adrenal (HPA) Axis Dysfunction and Stress
Stress plays a vital role in hypothyroidism. According to Dr Wasser, cortisol, the primary hormone produced in response to stress, can suppress function. And it keeps the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) from being released, thereby inducing hypothyroidism.
Nutrient deficiencies such as iodine deficiency, selenium deficiency and zinc can also cause hypothyroidism. There are many minerals and trace minerals such as Selenium, Iodine, Zinc, Iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Tyrosine. etc that are required for thyroid hormones synthesis & metabolization. Deficiencies of these nutrients can cause thyroid dysfunction.
How is hypothyroidism diagnosed?
Diagnosis plays a vital role in treating hypothyroidism. There are several causes for hypothyroidism; however, finding the root cause of why you have the disease is necessary. And to do that, a functional medicine doctor or a thyroid specialist will ask you to get some tests done to find the ‘why’ of your disease.
Finding the correct root cause includes panels that make it easier for the doctor to understand your problem and come up with medications accordingly. However, traditionally, TSH levels from 0.4-4.5 mIU/L have been considered normal. Levels from 4.6-8.0 mIU/L suggest subclinical hypothyroidism. It is important to remember that these values cannot be regarded as absolute.
Certain patients have thyroid problems, but their TSH test, T3, and T4 levels are normal. That is because the disease process acts beyond these test measures. Such a person may have elevated antibody levels. The absence of symptoms may occur in the early stages of the disease, so taking a panel of tests is crucial to detect the disease.
To avoid such cases, at Jeevam Health, the thyroid doctors suggest you take test panels that make it convenient to detect the disease early.
The test plan is as follows-
- Complete blood count (CBC) with ESR
- Cardiometabolic (Fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1c, Fasting Insulin, Lipid Profile, and Homocysteine
- Nutrition Profile: Vitamin D, Iron panel with ferritin, Vitamin B12, Magnesium
- Inflammation markers: hsCRP, CRP
- Liver Function Test
- Thyroid Function
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
- Total T3 and Total T4
- Free T3 and T4
- Anti TPO antibodies and antithyroglobulin antibodies
If you are a hypothyroidism patient, you might have been handed over a list of medicines. Well, such medicines are synthetic thyroid hormones to support your thyroid gland. Medicines such as Levothyroxine (Levoxyl) and Synthroid prescribed for hypothyroidism treatment can cause other health diseases if taken unnecessarily. Also, it's a one size fits all approach and aims to reduce the symptoms. This approach leads to severe side effects and even persistent symptoms during the medicine course too.
And that is where the functional medicines come into the picture. Functional medicine aims to find the root cause of the disease and thrive on eradicating it and reversing the adverse effects. However, medications alone cannot help you cure hypothyroidism permanently. The treatment should be a 360-degree approach that circumcises all aspects such as nutrition, lifestyle, and exercise. Focusing on a personalized hypothyroidism diet plan and an elimination diet can help you improve the quality of your life and promote better thyroid health. Food plays a crucial role in treating hypothyroidism so, focusing on a balanced diet and avoiding food that can trigger your food sensitivities is an important role.
To treat the disease, you must understand the root cause of the problem. The root cause is figured out by doing a detailed study of the patient’s medical history and symptoms. Once done, the functional medicine experts ask the patients to do panel tests that confirm the root cause of hypothyroidism. Once done, the doctor will curate a personalized treatment plan keeping in mind the various complexities present and the severity of the disease. If you have persistent symptoms, our doctors might take a route to combine T4 medicine with T3 in the prescription in such cases. But if you have hyperthyroidism, you are more likely to be advised medications, radiation, and surgery to treat the disease. Conventional medicine treats the disease in hopes of reducing symptoms of the disease. However, relieving the symptoms is not a great choice, as the symptoms keep coming back. Also, the medications prescribed come with a list of dangerous side effects which do more harm than good.
But in functional medicine, approaches focus on removing gluten from the diet and relieving stress - as they are some of the common root causes. Emphasis is given to treat leaky gut and reinoculate beneficial gut bacteria by ingesting probiotic foods and supplements. Besides, proper steps are taken to improve the lifestyle, find underlying infections, and treat them. The treatment also focuses on enhancing the immune system using supplements to treat the disease from the core.
The prime focus of thyroid treatment should be to treat the root cause of the problem and reduce the adversity of the damage done. While conventional thyroid treatment focuses on suppressing the disease and reducing the symptoms, the result is devastating. In a study carried out by Jeevam health, 75 % of the patients showed signs even after taking thyroid medications -- one of the significant drawbacks of the conventional treatment plan.
Said that treating thyroid disease by focusing on eliminating the root cause is a better choice. At Jeevam health, we thrive on treating thyroid disease by treating its root causes and reversing its symptoms.
Want to cure thyroid and live a healthy life? Reach out to us.