LGC Content Header 3 MindThyroid

The key is identifying it. Millions of people walk around and don’t even know they have a thyroid problem. Your general practitioner may even test for thyroid issues, and the results may come back completely normal but you still don’t quite feel right. At LifeGuard, we do ELABORATE testing of your thyroid, beyond the basic evaluation so that we can pinpoint any issue with your thyroid. Finally you will be able to start feeling normal once again!

I was feeling terrible, and I couldn’t figure out why I always felt out of whack.  I went to my Dr. and he tested for thyroid issues.  Everything came back normal, so I went on for another whole year feeling out of it.  Finally a friend referred me to LifeGuard and Dr. Vitaro did much more testing on me and we found out there WAS something wrong with my thyroid!  I’ve been on a treatment plan for 3 months now and boy does it feel good to be back to normal again!  Thank you guys!
Teresa F., Scottsdale, AZ

 

 

Feeling sluggish and cold? Exercising every day but still putting on the pounds? Do you look bloated and puffy? If these symptoms sound all too familiar, you may have a thyroid disorder.

According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, 27 million Americans have thyroid disease, but more than half remain undiagnosed. This may be because thyroid symptoms may be confused with other diseases, and routine testing may be inadequate to give a clear picture of your thyroid status. Thyroid disease includes hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, goiters, nodules and cancer. Although thyroid problems are rarely fatal, they can pose serious health risks.

The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland located in your neck, just above your collarbone. It produces hormones that control every function in your body. The hormones produced by the thyroid gland affect nearly every organ, tissue, and cell of your body. These hormones do everything from improving mood, skin, hair, nails, sex drive, heart function, cholesterol, infertility, and hormonal symptoms such as PMS and menopause. It also impacts muscle aches, joint pain, body temperature, and metabolism.

The pituitary gland in the brain secretes a hormone called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which tells the thyroid gland to produce two other hormones called triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). The thyroid produces far more T4 than T3, but T3 is the more active of the two hormones. In a vital life process, T4 is converted into T3 in the liver.

Factors that Reduce T4 to T3 Conversion

Hypothyroidism results when there are insufficient levels of T3, the most active thyroid hormone. The following factors may reduce the conversion of T4 to T3 in the liver:

  • deficiency of minerals such as zinc, copper, selenium, iron, and iodine
  • deficiency of vitamins A, B2, B3, B6, and C
  • cadmium, mercury, or lead toxicity
  • elevated cortisol levels, which result from chronic stress
  • inadequate protein intake
  • high carbohydrate diet
  • medications such as birth control pills, beta blockers, and lithium
  • aging
  • diabetes
  • accumulation of toxins such as pesticides and plastic residues in the body

Factors that Promote T4 to T3 Conversion

In order for the body to remain in a proper hormonal balance, adequate levels of T3 must be converted from T4 in the liver. The following factors help promote that beneficial conversion:

  • adequate intake of selenium, potassium, iodine, iron, and zinc
  • a high-protein diet
  • adequate intake of vitamins A, B2, and E
  • adequate levels of the hormones testosterone, melatonin, insulin, glucagon, and growth hormone

Types of Thyroid Disease

Hypothyroidism is a lack of thyroid hormones due to underactive or missing thyroid. The most frequent cause is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the thyroid damaging its ability to produce hormones. Symptoms include weight gain, increased sensitivity to cold, constipation, muscle weakness, joint pain, depression, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, hair loss, (especially the outer third of the eyebrows), dry skin, water retention in the hands and feet, low sex drive, hoarse voice, high cholesterol, and excessive menstrual bleeding.

Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid producing too much hormone. It’s most common cause is the autoimmune disorder Graves’ disease. Symptoms include weight loss, increased appetite, rapid or irregular heartbeat, bulging eyes or eye irritation, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, trembling in your hands and fingers, increased sweating, muscle weakness, diarrhea, and light menstrual flow.

Nodules are swelling in one part of the thyroid and are extremely common. Nodules are a mystery—no one knows what causes them, and most people don’t have symptoms. In rare cases, they can cause hyperthyroidism or become so big that they interfere with swallowing or breathing.

Cancer occurs in less than 10 percent of nodules. It mainly effects women over 40 with a family history of thyroid cancer and generally does not cause any symptoms. In most cases, it grows slowly and rarely spreads, so removing the thyroid usually destroys the cancer.

Goiters are relatively rare enlargements of the thyroid gland usually caused by a lack of iodine, which helps the thyroid produce hormones. Goiters can also be a side effect of Graves’ disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Accurate Testing

The first thing your doctor will probably order is a thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) blood test. The higher your score, the more likely you are to be hypothyroid. However, doing this test alone is a big reason why so many people remain undiagnosed. There are varying beliefs regarding what levels are considered normal. We recommend levels between 0.3 and 3 to detect mild thyroid disorders, and sometimes consider any score higher than 2 as an indication of hypothyroidism.

If your TSH comes back normal, you may still have a thyroid problem and should consider asking your physician to perform the following tests.

Free T3 and Free T4-This test measures the levels of each specific thyroid hormone; if one is out of balance, it may not show up on the TSH test. Normal T4 level is 0.9 to 1.8 nanograms per decililiter; T3 should be between 240 and 450 picgrams per deciliter.

Thyroid peroxidase antibodies or antithyroglobulin antibodies-Elevated thyroid antibodies in the blood may indicate thyroid disease.

Thyroid-releasing hormone (TRH) stimulation test-This test measures hypothyroidism caused by a poorly functioning pituitary gland.

A Simple Test for Hypothyroidism

Here is a simple test you can do at home to see if you might have hypothyroidism:

  • Take your body temperature before getting out of bed three mornings in a row.
  • If your body temperature is consistently below 97 degrees, you may be deficient in thyroid hormones.*

If this test indicates you may have an underactive thyroid, see a healthcare provider, who can confirm the results through a blood test.

*Women should not take this test in the middle of a menstrual cycle, when they may be ovulating and body temperature may be slightly higher than normal.

Drug Therapy

Patients with hypothyroidism may take thyroid hormones to reset the hormonal balance and “get back on track,” regaining the energy they had before the thyroid slowed down.

Synthroid, Levothyroid, Unithroid and Levoxyl are artificial thyroid hormones designed to kick-start an underperforming thyroid or to help shrink nodules. Although these drugs have virtually no side effects, they can simulate hyperthyroid symptoms if your dose is too high.

The alternative is natural hormones made from dried, powdered pig thyroids which are the closest option to human thyroid. The natural hormone is marketed under the names Armour Thyroid, Nature-Throid, and Westhroid.

Hyperthyroidism is more likely caused solely by thyroid dysfunction. If you have strong hyperthyroidism, it may be best to take conventional drugs because of the possibility of “thyroid storm”–a rare but life-threatening condition that seriously elevates heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature.

Alternative Therapies

Although some thyroid disease can be positively impacted by dietary/lifestyle changes, exercise, relaxation, detoxification and certain nutritional supplements, thyroid treatment should be directed by a physician knowledgeable in thyroid disorders to achieve the most effective results.

Adrenal Gland Involvement

The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system which stretches from the pituitary gland in the brain to the adrenals on the kidneys. The glands work together as a team. If you have a thyroid problem, it may be because your adrenal glands are fatigued. When your adrenal system is imbalanced because of too much mental or physical stress, it alters the production of the hormone cortisol, which encourages the thyroid to slow down its own hormone production. It you are being treated for hypothyroidism and still not getting better, you should have your adrenal glands evaluated.

Thyroid hormone therapy is a service provided by LifeGuard.