What is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is insufficient production of thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland. Thyroid hormones control the rate of your body’s metabolism.  Every cell in the body is influenced by these hormones and the consequences of not having enough thyroid hormone can be devastating.

What causes Hypothyroidism?

A common cause of hypothyroidism is an immune inflammation of the thyroid tissue (autoimmune thyroiditis, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Grave’s Disease).  This can cause the thyroid gland to enlarge and increase its activity (hyperthyroid).  After a time, the irritated thyroid gland decreases its activity and secretes less thyroid hormone causing the individual to have symptoms.
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Contributing factors to the development of autoimmune thyroiditis can be genetic, a chronic Lyme Disease infection, a gluten allergy, low cortisol levels and heavy metal toxicity. Identifying the cause when possible, and orienting treatment accordingly is the best way to correct this imbalance.

What are the symptoms of Hypothyroidism?

Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include weight gain, fatigue, poor quality hair and nails, goiter (enlarged thyroid – noticeable on the lower neck), scalp hair loss, dry skin, cold hands and feet, and constipation.
Some lesser known but common symptoms are high cholesterol, irregular menstruation, low libido, infertility, fluid retention, yellowing of the skin, acne and eczema, memory problems, poor stamina and anxiety.

How is Hypothyroidism treated?

Diagnosis of hypothyroidism is best made by a careful review of symptoms, daytime body temperatures and blood tests.  A complete Thyroid panel includes; TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, Thyroid antibodies and serum iodine.  Blood testing alone can be inadequate to determine if your thyroid is under functioning, and a normal thyroid blood test does not identify all individuals who will benefit from taking thyroid hormones.

Treatments can include dietary modifications, identification and elimination of food allergens, plant medicines, nutrients and bio-identical thyroid hormones, such as Armour Thyroid or Nature Throid. These formulations contain both T3 and T4 whereas synthetic hormones are only T4 or T3.  Occasionally it’s necessary to use synthetic thyroid hormones with specific patients.

With proper treatment, your symptoms from an underactive thyroid should begin to improve within a few weeks or less.

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