Thyroid Disease

Learn important thyroid conditions.  Have informed conversations with your clinician. 

About Thyroid Disease
An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, yet up to 60 percent of those who have thyroid disease are unaware of their condition. Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.
 
The thyroid hormone (made by the butterfly-shaped endocrine gland in the lower front of the neck) helps the body use energy, stay warm and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working as they should.  Additionally, it is required for all metabolic activity, including healthy digestion, detoxification, and ovulation.
Thyroid Awareness shutterstock_365050112

What Are Typical Symptoms of Thyroid Issues?

Track Your Symptoms.  Help Your Doctor Help You.

Hypothyroidism
Your Body Functions Slow
Most Common Condition: 
Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
Enlarged thyroid
Dry, coarse hair
Loss of eyebrow hair
Fluid retention/puffy face
Slow heartbeat
Irregular / heavy periods
Heavy periods
Dry skin/cracked heels
Feeling cold all the time
Digestive issues, including SIBO, constipation
Fatigue
Brain fog
Depression
Forgetfulness
High cholesterol
Infertility
Hyperthyroidism
Your Body Functions Speed Up
Most Common Condition:  Graves' Disease
Enlarged thyroid
Fine, brittle hair
Hair loss
Increased sweating
Rapid heartbeat
Less frequent periods
Lighter menstrual flow
Thinning of skin
Feeling hot all the time
Frequent bowel movements
Difficulty sleeping
Irritability
Nervousness
Hand tremors
Soft nails
Infertility
 

Getting your Thyroid Tested

Listen to what Dr Marc Sklar, Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine has to say about testing for thyroid function.  It requires more than testing your TSH (and doctors disagree on what normal is).

What Should Your Doctor Test For?
Testing TSH alone often causes thyroid problems to be undiagnosed. This is a full panel of thyroid-related blood tests. (This list is specific to thyroid panel blood work.) 
1.
TSH
2.
T3
3.
T4
4.
Free T3
5.
Free T4
6.
Reverse T3
7.
T3 Uptake
8.
TPO Antibodies
9.
Antithyroidglobulin antibodies
Smiling Woman

Conditions You May Have in Addition to

Thyroid Disease

Pernicious Anemia
Addison's Disease
Autoimmune Disease
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Type 1 Diabetes
Celiac Disease
Vitiligo
Epstein-Barr Virus
Lupus
About Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
There are no signs or symptoms that are unique to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Because the condition usually progresses very slowly over many years, people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis may not have any symptoms early on, even when the characteristic thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies are detected in blood tests. TPO is an enzyme that plays a role in the production of thyroid hormones. If Hashimoto’s thyroiditis causes cell damage leading to low thyroid hormone levels, patients will eventually develop symptoms of hypothyroidism.

—  American Thyroid Association

Thyroid Awareness

Check out our blog summarizing what you need to know about your thyroid.

About Graves' Disease
Clues that your hyperthyroidism is caused by Graves’ disease are the presence of Graves’ eye disease and/or dermopathy (see above), a symmetrically enlarged thyroid gland and a history of other family members with thyroid or other autoimmune problems, including type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, pernicious anemia (due to lack of vitamin B12) or painless white patches on the skin known as vitiligo.

—  American Thyroid Association

 
Find an Expert
The American Thyroid Association has a list of specialists, but as they caveat, these are doctors who have self-selected.  However, it is a place to start.  Remember, if you don't feel heard, continue to speak up and if needed, use your feet to find someone who will.
Treatments to Manage Your
Thyroid Condition
Educate yourself so you and your clinician can weigh the pros and cons to decide what's right for you.  Note MDs and Naturopaths may differ in approach. 

Hypothyroidism

1.
Levothyroxine. Natural T4 hormone and very common treatment for hypothyroidism, where it is recommended TSH checked every 6-8 weeks to determine appropriate dose, with annual monitoring suggested thereafter.
2.
Dessicated Thyroid.  From a pig, this contains both T3 and T4 hormones.  A common treatment for hypothyroidism.
3.
Valacyclovir or supplement monolaurin. For the treatment of Epstein-Barr virus, which may occur in those with a thyroid condition.
4.
Ashwagandha. Reduces inflammation and supports healthy production of thyroid hormone.
5.
Iodine. Helpful if you do not have thyroid antibodies.  The dosage is critical to monitor with your doctor.
6.
Selenium. Reduces inflammation and thyroid antibodies, activates T3 and T4 and protects thyroid from iodine.  Be cautious with the dose as too much is toxic.
7.
Gluten-Free Diet. This diet along with avoiding other inflammatory foods tends to aid in thyroid function.
8.
Gut Healing Diet. Try an elimination diet to determine your food triggers and ultimately heal your gut. Toxin removal is also a critical element.

Hyperthyroidism

1.
Beta Blockers.  Considered important primary treatment for those with hyperthyroidism. While not impacting the thyroid hormone, they prevent symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism including slowing down your heart rate and reducing the symptoms of palpitations, shakes, and nervousness until one of the other forms of treatment has a chance to take effect.
2.
Methimazole (i.e., Tapazole) (although propylthiouracil [PTU] may be used in rare instances such as the first trimester of pregnancy).  Prevents the thyroid gland from making too much thyroid hormone (thus for those with hyperthyroidism), but in some cases Radioactive Iodine Therapy (RIT) preferred.
3.
Surgery.  Surgical removal of all or most of your thyroid gland can cure hyperthyroidism. After your thyroid gland is removed, the source of your hyperthyroidism is gone and you will become hypothyroid. Restoring thyroid hormone levels to normal requires once-a-day treatment with a thyroid hormone supplement.
4.
Valacyclovir or supplement monolaurin. For the treatment of Epstein-Barr virus, which may occur in those with a thyroid condition.
5.
Gluten-Free Diet. This diet along with avoiding other inflammatory foods tends to aid in thyroid function.
6.
Gut Healing Diet. Try an elimination diet to determine your food triggers and ultimately heal your gut.  Toxin removal is also a critical element.
7.
Supplements & Thyroid Calming Herbs.  Examples include bugleweed, motherwort, and lemon balm.
Sources:  American Thyroid Association (ATA), Dr Izabella Wentz, Lara Briden, ND, author of The Period Repair ManualDr Amy Myers
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© 2020 by FempowerHealth

Our content is for informational purposes only — it's not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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