Thyroid Issues And How They Affect Your Life

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your throat, wrapped around your windpipe. It’s part of your endocrine system, meaning that it’s an organ that produces hormones that control your metabolism, reproductive system, immune functions, and response to stress and mood.

The thyroid produces hormones that control metabolism. This is the process by which your body converts food into energy. That energy is used for all bodily functions, including digestion, cardiovascular functions, temperature regulation, skin, nail, hair growth, and reproductive health. When your metabolism works properly, you have enough energy to maintain all those functions.

If your thyroid doesn’t produce the right amount of hormones, your metabolism will be affected, and you’ll notice changes in your body’s functions. This is known as thyroid disease. In some cases, the thyroid processes too little hormone, so you don’t have sufficient energy for regular metabolic activity. In other cases, your thyroid might produce too much hormone, which speeds up your metabolism and leads to deregulation.

Ten Early Symptoms of Thyroid Disease

Thyroid disease can develop gradually and cause a wide variety of symptoms. Because thyroid hormones control metabolism, imbalances can affect your whole body. You may notice many symptoms that don’t seem to be related. They can all be caused by a slowdown or speed-up of your metabolism.

Sure, telltale signs indicate a problem with your thyroid. Some of the most common symptoms of thyroid disease include:

  1. Tiredness: Low thyroid function means your metabolic function slows down, and your body doesn’t convert food into all the energy you need. You may always feel tired or get tired more quickly than you used to.
  2. Sensitivity to cold: Reduced energy production can mean that your internal thermostat doesn’t go as high as it should, and your core body temperature is always low. You may find cool temperatures challenging to tolerate. You may also have trouble getting warm even when you move to a warmer room or add more layers of clothing.
  3. Weight gain: You may gain weight, even without changing your diet or exercise routine. This is because a core function of metabolism is to process food and convert it to energy. When that process slows, your body converts unused food into fat.
  4. Slowed heart rate: Bradycardia, or a slow heart rate, is a severe symptom of hypothyroidism. You may notice dizziness and breathing problems as a result of bradycardia. This can result in low blood pressure, fluctuating heart rhyme, and issues with your blood vessels. Untreated, it can cause long-term cardiovascular problems.
  5. Depression, memory problems, and difficulty concentrating: You may find that the lack of energy from hypothyroidism affects your mood. The lack of energy can make it hard to focus and remember things. This, alongside fatigue and other symptoms, can lead to feelings of depression.
  6. Losing weight without trying or increased hunger: When your thyroid is overactive, it signals your metabolism to speed up and produce more energy than your body needs. This can cause your body to release fat stores as fuel for this sustained need for energy. You may also feel hungrier than usual as your body uses energy from food more quickly.
  7. Fast or irregular heartbeat: Increases in thyroid hormone can speed up your heart rate or cause your heart system to fluctuate. This can put you at risk for severe complications such as stroke. You may also be at increased risk of congestive heart failure, where your heart cannot supply enough blood to the rest of your body.
  8. Nervousness, anxiety, and irritability: The excess energy your body produces can affect your mood. You might feel jittery and unable to calm down. This may lead to nervousness and irritability you can’t prevent or soothe.
  9. Enlarged thyroid gland: An overactive thyroid gland can swell. You may notice a lump in your neck, sometimes called a goiter.
  10. Sleep problems: Excess metabolic energy can make falling or staying asleep difficult.                                                                                                             

In addition, you may experience changes to primary bodily functions, including:

  • Digestion: Thyroid disease can speed up digestive processes, causing diarrhea and frequent bowel movements. It can also slow digestion, leading to constipation.
  • Reproduction: Thyroid disease may change your menstrual periods. Periods can become less regular. They may also become cumbersome.
  • Skin, hair, and nails: Changes to hair, skin, and nails are familiar with thyroid disease. You may notice hair loss (especially the outer third of the eyebrows), thinning hair, or changes to hair texture. Changes in thyroid function also cause dry skin and brittle nails.

Why Your Physician Can Easily Miss Low Thyroid Hormone Function

Want to know why the diagnosis of a low thyroid state is so commonly missed? The main problem is our over-reliance on thyroid blood tests. The amount of your thyroid hormones is accurately measurable with standard tests, such as TSH, free T3, and free T4. However, these do not measure your thyroid function per se. This may explain the disconnect for many of you who have been feeling low in thyroid hormone, yet your doctor says your thyroid blood tests are acceptable.

Let me share with you more detailed reasons why standard thyroid blood tests may not reveal low thyroid function:

  1. There can be decreased thyroid hormone uptake by the target cells of target tissues in thyroid deficiency. Since thyroid hormone works inside the cells, the blood levels of TSH, T3, and T4 should not be expected to reflect what is happening inside the cells where their function is. Furthermore, there is reduced lymphatic drainage associated with hypothyroidism, resulting in the accumulation of waste products in the connective tissues, especially mucopolysaccharides (sugars) that present a barrier against thyroid hormone getting to the target cells.
  2. There can be decreased conversion of T4 into T3 (the biologically active one) in low thyroid function.
  3. There is decreased clearance of thyroid hormone from the blood associated with thyroid deficiency, making the blood values deceptively higher than they otherwise would be.
  4. Hypothyroidism is associated with reduced blood volume and constriction of blood vessels, which causes T3 and T4 levels to be higher than they would be.
  5. Hormones vary tremendously during the day; these blood tests are only a snapshot. Stress, in particular, will increase many hormones.
  6. The TSH test, considered the best test for thyroid deficiency, is not sensitive enough. It will only be elevated in severe primary hypothyroidism and will not be elevated at all in secondary (pituitary) hypothyroidism.
  7. Finally, the laboratory reference ranges are taken from a sick population replete with all sorts of undiagnosed and untreated endocrine deficiencies, poor nutrition, and other health issues. They do not represent values for optimal health.

Foods That Boost Thyroid Function

It is also good to know the dietary ways to improve thyroid function:

  • Animal protein from pastured beef, eggs from range chickens, mercury-free fish and shellfish, cheeses, eggs, and dairy, and protein in fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts help support healthy thyroid function.
  • Fresh organic produce from leafy greens, green beans, colorful vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts.
  • Healthy oils such as coconut, avocado, and olive oil are high in omega-3.

Supplements To Enhance Thyroid Function

Iodine: While it is true that lack of iodine can be one cause of hypothyroidism, this cause is not common in North America. Iodine is plentiful in seaweed, seafood, dairy, grain, and eggs and less so in fruits and vegetables. 

Vitamin D-3:  In a 2011 thyroid issue, low vitamin D levels were associated with worsened thyroid function in patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Ensure you get enough vitamin D3 and maybe 20 minutes of sunlight daily (enough sunlight for your skin to make adequate amounts).

Herbs that enhance thyroid function are:

  • Sea Kelp provides a natural iodine source. Also, it protects thyroid cells from inflammation, the interference with the uptake of iodine caused by hydrogen peroxide during thyroid hormone synthesis. This effect is shown to decrease the risk of autoimmune thyroid disease. 
  • Bladderwrack also provides a natural iodine source. Also, it has anti-estrogen properties, thereby reducing the risk of thyroid gland inflammation by estrogen in both men and women.
  • Ashwagandha raises serum levels of thyroid hormones by acting directly on the thyroid gland.
  • Rosemary and Sage both increase thyroid hormone-specific receptors on target tissue cells. 

To learn more about thyroid issues and how we can help,  get a FREE Consultation with one of our doctors (D.C) here

Thyro-Build is a vegetarian blend of L-Tyrosine with herbal extracts vitamins and minerals, and includes Coleus Forskohlii to support the maintenance and proper function of a healthy thyroid.

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