Have you found yourself struggling with sudden weight gain, constipation, hair loss, or a mental fog you’re unable to combat? These are a few symptoms of hypothyroidism, a disease that can leave those afflicted with it feeling like their body is betraying them. Thyroid diseases have spent a lot of time in the public spotlight recently, but not all thyroid issues are created equal. Learn the symptoms and causes of hypothyroidism, and see if a call to the doctor is in order.
What Is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is the medical term for an under-functioning thyroid gland. An underactive thyroid can spell disaster for your body, but few people really understand what and where the thyroid is.
The thyroid gland is located in the front lower part of the neck. It’s in charge of regulating how your body uses the energy it gets from food. The hormones released from the thyroid travel throughout the body and have a hand in just about everything from your heart to your brain, and your skin. An under-functioning thyroid can throw off body temperature, the burning of calories, and energy production.
What Are the Symptoms of Hypothyroidism?
An under-functioning thyroid can upset hormonal and chemical balances in your body. Depending on the exact causes of hypothyroidism, as well as the severity, the symptoms may vary. Problems tend to develop slowly, and may not be immediately recognized for a number of years. The symptoms may include:
- Sudden, unexplained weight gain and inability to lose weight
- Increased sensitivity to cold, especially in the hands and feet
- Dry Skin
- Puffy face
- Muscle aches, weakness, tenderness, stiffness
- Thinning hair
- Elevated blood cholesterol
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Mental fog or forgetfulness
If left untreated, the symptoms of hypothyroidism may become more severe.
What Are the Causes of Hypothyroidism?
There can be many causes for hypothyroidism. The most common are autoimmune disease, especially an inflammatory disorder known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Autoimmune disorders cause your body’s immune system to produce antibodies that attack its own tissue, as opposed to foreign bodies. Inflammation or attacking of the thyroid gland severely limits its ability to regulate your body’s metabolism and hormones.
Some of the other causes of hypothyroidism can be the result of trauma to the thyroid gland. Radiation therapy to the neck as a result of cancer treatment may cause hypothyroidism, as well as thyroid surgery or partial removal. Someone who had part of their thyroid removed as a treatment for hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) may develop hypothyroidism.
Certain medications used to treat heart problems, cancer, and psychiatric disorders may also lead to hypothyroidism. A few examples are lithium, amiodarone (Cordarone), interferon alpha, and interleukin-2. You can ask your prescribing doctor about the effects of your medication on your thyroid.
Some causes of hypothyroidism are less common. These include pregnancy, congenital or pituitary disorders, or iodine deficiency.
Seek Out a Trusted Doctor
If you’re experiencing the symptoms of hypothyroidism, it’s important to seek out a trusted functional medicine doctor. Many doctors will limit thyroid screening to testing the levels of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) in the blood. However, TSH alone may not tell the whole story. A functional medicine doctor can perform a comprehensive physical and can analyze additional hormone levels including free T3, free T4, reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies, along with TSH. They can help determine the root causes of hypothyroidism and will work with you to treat it.
Dr. Lorraine Maita is a recognized and award-winning holistic, functional, and anti-aging physician and author. She transforms people’s lives by getting to the root cause of illness using the best of science and nature. Her approach is personalized precision medicine where you are treated as the unique individual you are. She has years of experiences treating hypothyroidism, brings her caring nature and attention to detail to every patient she treats. Don’t wait, schedule your consultation today!