Live in my body for a day and then tell me it’s all in my head! I’m not lazy and I’m not crazy. I have thyroid disease.

In preparation for writing this blog, I wanted to scan the internet for funny quotes (or not so funny if you have thyroid disease) about the thyroid. In doing so, multiple images of overweight, tired, unhappy women expressing their fatigue, brain fog and overall misery surfaced. And to be honest, that is exactly how so many of you feel!

Did you know that more than 20 million Americans suffer from thyroid disease? About 12% of Americans will have some form of thyroid disease in their lifetime. Almost 60 % of Americans are unaware that they have thyroid disease.

At CentreSpring MD, it isn’t uncommon for us to hear many patients express how frustrated they are with their doctor. As one cartoon depicted, they feel as though their doctor is burying their head in the sand as they describe their plethora of symptoms. The frustration continues as many patients with thyroid symptoms remain untreated for years because their labs are considered “normal”.

What is the thyroid and why is it so important? The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland consisting of two lobes connected by an isthmus. It is located in the middle of your neck just below the Adam’s apple. It secretes thyroid hormones, primarily T4 and T3, that influence metabolism, protein synthesis and many other functions of the body.

Common thyroid diseases include hypothyroidism (not enough thyroid hormone – can be overt or subclinical), hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone), thyroiditis including autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s and Grave’s disease), thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer.

What can happen if thyroid disease is untreated?

  • Increased risk of memory loss
  • Increased risk of heart attack/heart failure and high cholesterol
  • Increased risk of diabetes
  • Increased risk of osteoporosis
  • Weakening of your immune system
  • Increased risk of arrhythmia
  • Increased mental health issues
  • Infertility and miscarriage in pregnancy and possible birth defects
  • Development of neck swelling/goiter

Common symptoms of thyroid disease:

  • dry course hair, hair loss on crown of scalp
  • loss of lateral third of the eyebrow
  • cold or heat intolerance
  • constipation or frequent stools
  • slow or rapid heartbeat
  • brittle or soft nails
  • heavy or scant menses
  • fatigue and sleep disturbances
  • weight gain or weight loss, unexplained
  • dry skin
  • infertility
  • depression or anxiety

If you suffer from any of the above, ask your provider to test you for thyroid disease. A complete, integrative thyroid evaluation will include the following:

Labs:

  • TSH
  • Free and total T4
  • Free and total T3
  • TPO Ab (thyroid peroxidase)
  • Thyroglobulin Ab
  • RT3 (reverse T3)

You may also check your basal body temperature, which should be checked under the armpit for 10 minutes before getting out of bed first thing the morning. If it is consistently below 97.6 degrees, you may have hypothyroidism.

Interpretation of your lab results may also vary amongst providers. If you fall within the “normal range”, yet have any of the symptoms above, you may benefit from seeing an integrative physician trained in holistic, naturopathic, integrative and/or functional medicine.
Once your integrative physician identifies whether or not you have thyroid disease, they will then help you identify the possible root causes and/or contributing factors.
When you understand why you may have developed problems with your thyroid, you will be able to improve your thyroid condition as well as your overall health.

Possible Root Causes of Thyroid Disease

  • Genetics
  • Lifestyle/Stress/Activity Level
  • Nutritional Deficiencies/Food Interactions/Gut health
  • Toxic Load: Environmental toxins/Effect of Medications
  • Pregnancy/Menopause and Hormonal Issues
  • Trauma, Surgery, Radiation

Now that you have explored all of the possible contributing factors affecting the health of your thyroid, how do you treat it? An integrative approach would not only consider what medication is right for you, but also consider the above.

Common Medications for Treating Thyroid Disease

  • Levothyroxine
  • Synthroid
  • Tirosint
  • Liothyronine
  • Cytomel, SR T3
  • Armour Thyroid
  • Nature-Throid
  • Westhroid
  • Synthetic T4/T3
  • Herbal Formulas or Compounded

Key Nutrients that Affect Thyroid

  • Selenium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium
  • Tyrosine
  • Vitamins A, D, E
  • Vitamins-B2, B3, B6, B12
  • Iodine

Foods that May Negatively Affect Thyroid:

  • Soy: may affect thyroid health and absorption of thyroid medication
  • Gluten: studies show strong association with autoimmune thyroid disease
  • Goitrogenic foods/Brassica family: kale, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, etc ( steaming these foods and eating them in modest amounts is advised)
  • Excess iodine

As you can see there are many possible contributing factors to the development of thyroid disease, many symptoms that can indicate underlying thyroid disease and many possible ways to intervene. Working with an integrative practitioner can help you identify if you have a problem, discuss the many options for treatment and create a personalized and comprehensive plan that addresses all aspects of thyroid disease.
At CentreSpring MD we can help you create a food plan that’s right for you with one of our Registered Dieticians and stick to it with the help of one of our health coaches. We can help identify possible exposures to toxins and eliminate or reduce them. We can perform lab testing to evaluate you for indicators of oxidative stress and improve the negative effects with antioxidants.

Are you sick and tired of feeling sick and tired? I can hear all of you saying…YES!! Through specific testing we can help you identify the root causes of your fatigue and energy production can be improved. Gut function can be improved with dietary change and specific supplements. Lastly, we can help you get a better handle on the stress in your life by co-creating a self-care plan that may include herbs, acupuncture, massage and/or energy work offered at our spa.

If you have any of the symptoms listed above or suspect that you may have thyroid disease, please call us so that we may partner with you! You don’t need to suffer another day alone,
feeling unheard or ignored when there are real reasons why you aren’t feeling well. We look forward to helping you in your journey towards optimal health and wellness!

Dr. Tanya Lehine is a board certified physician specializing in family medicine and functional medicine with expertise in women’s health and the mind-body connection to health and wellness.

Email appointments@centrespringmd.com to schedule a visit with Dr. Tanya Lehine D.O..

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Categories: Thyroid & Hormones