Tired, Brain Fogged, Gaining Weight? Eight Signs Your Thyroid Is Off-Kilter... Eight Must Get Labs
Updated: Oct 8, 2019
You're told your thyroid labs are "normal." Welcome to the club.
And yet, you’re exhausted, brain-fogged, gaining weight, losing your hair and always cold. It’s time to get your life back on track! It’s time to get your thyroid checked, properly.
The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland that sits just below your Adam’s apple. Although small in size, the thyroid gland is one of the most important regulatory organs we have.
It is responsible for producing the master metabolism hormones that can impact almost every cell in your body!
Aside from regulating your metabolism by releasing the necessary hormones, the thyroid is also important for childhood growth and development, as well as nearly every physiological process in your body.
According to the American Thyroid Association, it’s estimated that as many as 27 million Americans suffer from some type of thyroid issue – and at least half of them don’t know about it. The majority are women; women are eight to ten times more likely to be affected by thyroid disease than men.
When your thyroid levels are out-of-balance, you’re out-of-balance. Too little or too much of the hormone can spell trouble for you and your overall well-being. You might not be able to explain it, but you just don’t feel right. When thyroid levels are too high (hyperthyroidism), you feel wired; when levels are too low, you feel slow and tired (hypothyroidism).
There is a tight connection between the brain, the thyroid gland and the immune system. Any imbalance in any one of these three systems affects the other system. That is why a person with an underactive thyroid might display a variety of mental symptoms such as irritability, increased anger, anxiety, sleep disorders, and/or even depression. Your thyroid levels affect your mental clarity and performance, which in turn, affect your immune system.
Poor thyroid function (or undetected thyroid problems) has been linked to health conditions such as osteoporosis, heart disease, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel disease, infertility in women, and autoimmune disease.
That is why it's imperative to learn how your thyroid works and what can cause it to go off-kilter.
An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) accounts for 90% of thyroid imbalances. Some of the signs to watch out for are listed below:
Underactive Thyroid Symptoms
1. Exhausted and fatigued
2. Weight gain or inability to lose weight
3. Mood swings, foggy thinking or anxiety
4. Hormonal imbalances: PMS, infertility, low sex drive
5. Muscle or joint pain
6. Sensitivity to cold
7. Dry cracking skin; excessive hair loss
The Low Down On Thyroid Slowdown
Why is hypothyroidism underdiagnosed? We are seeing an over reliance on two lab tests: TSH and T4. Many traditional doctors are only running these two tests.
They don’t check for Free T3, Reverse T3 or thyroid antibodies, which may indicate an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto's. Additionally, conventional doctors often only use the “normal lab ranges” as their only guidance tool vs. paying attention to their patients’ symptoms.
Certainly there are doctors who can get the diagnosis right but there are just as many who don’t know how to optimize treatment. Thyroid lab values vary. “The normal range” may not be optimal for you. You need to determine what your “optimal” functional level is for you.
There are “normal lab values” for blood tests results, but there are also “optimal” ranges, which actually tell you far more about your thyroid.
Get The Tests You Need
Get the right blood tests done to get the proper diagnosis and treatment.
Eight Must Check Labs for Hypothyroid
2) Total T4
3) Free T4
4) Total T3
5) Free T3 (active form of thyroid!)
6) Reverse T3
7) Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPO)
8) Thyroglobulin Antibodies (Tg)
By completing a full thyroid panel, you will be able to determine if you have a thyroid issue. You should also consider doing a complete metabolic panel, which includes a CBC.
What Factors Affect Healthy Thyroid Function
No one knows exactly what causes thyroid dysfunction, however, there are many underlying causes; plus the thyroid can be affected by a number of external factors. How we handle stress, the food we eat, hormone imbalances, environmental toxins (mold, endocrine disruptors, and heavy metals), viruses like Epstein-Barr, iodine deficiency, and certain supplements and prescription medications can all play a significant role.
Dr.Joseph Mercola discusses several contributing factors that can play havoc on a healthy thyroid function:
1. Gluten — Gluten is a notorious culprit of thyroid dysfunction, as it can cause inflammation and autoimmune responses in many people, and can be responsible for Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
Chris Kresser, an integrative medicine practitioner, recommends The Gluten-Free Challenge. This involves completely removing gluten from your diet for at least 30 days, and then adding it back right after. If symptoms improve during the elimination period, and return when gluten is introduced, then you have gluten sensitivity.
2. Bromine — Bromine is a common endocrine disruptor found in fire retardants. Bromine can also be found regularly in pesticides, plastics, bakery products, soft drinks, and swimming pools. Evidence shows that this compound may affect proper thyroid function, as well as hormone transport.
When you ingest or absorb bromine, it displaces iodine, and this iodine deficiency leads to an increased risk for cancer of the breast, thyroid gland, ovary and prostate cancers that we see at alarmingly high rates today. This phenomenon is significant enough to have been given its own name: the Bromide Dominance Theory.
3. Stress and adrenal function — Stress is one of the worst thyroid offenders. Your thyroid function is intimately tied to your adrenal function, which is affected by how you handle stress and trauma.
Eight Simple Steps You Can Try To Improve Your Thyroid Health
Additionally, Dr. Joseph Mercola lists some of the things you can do to improve the performance of your thyroid:
1) Identify and treat the underlying causes when possible. Find out what's triggering your thyroid problems — whether it's iodine deficiency, hormone imbalance, environmental toxicity or inflammation.
2) Load up on fresh iodine-rich foods. As an alternative to iodine supplementation, eat toxin-free foods such as seaweed, sardines and wild Alaskan salmon. However, make sure that these are harvested from uncontaminated waters. Eggs and dairy products such as grass-fed milk, yogurt and cheese contain iodine as well.
3) Avoid gluten. A 2019 study stated that avoiding gluten, or undergoing a gluten-free diet may benefit your thyroid, especially to those who have autoimmune thyroid disease.
4) Manage Stress with Mind-Body Techniques: Minimize your stress levels. Take a break, meditate, soak in the tub, go on vacation — do whatever works for you. Practice Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), an energy psychology tool that can help reduce stress. A 2011 study noted that stress affects the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis, which plays a role in hormone secretion.
5) Make an effort to limit your exposure to toxins. Exposure to environmental pollutants may increase your risk of thyroid cancer. Examples include BPA and phthalates.
6) Avoid sources of bromine as much as possible — Bromines are a menace to your endocrine system and are present all around you. Despite a ban on the use of potassium bromate in flour by the World Health Organization, bromines can still be found in some over-the-counter medications, foods and personal care products. Being a savvy label reader can save you from tons of toxic trouble.
7) Get adequate amounts of sleep. Inadequate or low-quality sleep can put your health at risk. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology notes that participants "with greater insomnia scores, especially non-obese women, had a significantly increased risk of thyroid cancer.
8) Exercise. Exercise can combat stress. Walk your dog in the park, jog in the morning and incorporate strength training and other core-building routines. Additionally, research shows that getting regular exercise may help reduce the risk of cancer.
If you suspect that you or someone you know is suffering from thyroid problems, please share this blog with them. I can help you better understand your labs, and work with your doctor to address the underlying causes of your thyroid imbalances.
Please schedule an appointment with me today: Veronica Petta, Guiding Well-Being at 614 848 9687.
Resources and Article Excerpts from
Bridget Danner, Lac, FDNP
Joseph Mercola, DO
Amy Myers MD
The Thyroid Connection Summit