It is estimated that 12 percent of Americans will develop a thyroid condition at some point in their lives, and 60 of them will remain of their condition. Living with an unidentified thyroid condition can significantly impact your health, weight, energy, and quality of life, so it is important that you recognize the symptoms and know how to obtain an accurate diagnosis.
The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped endocrine organ that is located at the front of your neck. Its size is tiny, but its role in your health and vitality is significant. The thyroid releases hormones that influence every cell, tissue and organ of your body, and it plays an important role in your metabolism, heart rate, nervous system, body weight, body temperature, breathing and many other vital functions.
Why Thyroid Disorders Remain Undiagnosed
There are three primary reasons why thyroid disorders often remain undiagnosed. Firstly, most conventional doctors consider the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) test to be the gold standard for the diagnosis of thyroid dysfunctions. Having healthy TSH levels however, does not mean that the other thyroid hormones are in balance. In order to determine thyroid health, you need a complete thyroid panel, that tests for TSH, as well as free T3, free T4, reverse T3, thyroid peroxidase antibodies, and thyroglobulin antibodies.
The second reason it remains undiagnosed is that conventional doctors are all about the numbers. They take tests, and if the numbers fall within the reference range for ‘normal’ then the patient is dismissed as healthy. ‘Normal’ does not mean optimal however, and symptoms of hypo and hyperthyroid can manifest and interfere with your health and quality of life, even when you are within the normal range.
The final reason why thyroid dysfunctions often go undiagnosed is because there are over 300 possible symptoms of thyroid dysfunction. The wide variation of symptoms can make it hard to make the connection.
Hypothyroidism Versus Hyperthyroidism
Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid is underactive and produces insufficient thyroid hormones. Hypothyroidism causes the body processes to slow down and the most common symptoms are fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, and hair loss on the outer corner of your eyebrows. Additional symptoms associated with hypothyroidism include: swollen thyroid, cold hands and feet, dry skin and hair, brittle nails, hair loss, puffy face, slowed heart rate, high cholesterol, forgetfulness, constipation, low sex drive, and depression.
Hypothyroidism has many possible causes including: Hashimoto’s disease (where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland cells that make thyroid hormones); radiation treatment, thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid); certain medications, too little iodine, and pituitary gland damage. Emerging research suggests it may also be caused by unidentified food intolerances such as a gluten sensitivity, and/or by leaky gut syndrome.
Hyperthyroidism is a health condition where the thyroid is overactive, and produces an excessive amount of thyroid hormones. Hyperthyroidism causes the bodily processes to speed-up, which can result in many symptoms, the most common of which include: fatigue, hand tremors, muscle weakness, mood swings, rapid or irregular heartbeat, skin dryness, insomnia, weight loss, light or missed periods, increased bowel movements, excessive perspiration, bulging eyes, anxiety, and nervousness. Hyperthyroidism is less common than hypothyroidism, however it’s health effects are more dangerous. Researchers have found hyperthyroidism increases the risk for cardiovascular disease by 20, and overall mortality risk by 15.
The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Grave’s disease, which is an autoimmune disorder where the body makes an antibody that causes the thyroid to produce thyroid hormones in excess. Hyperthyroidism can also be caused by goiter, an excessive intake of iodine, inflammation of the thyroid, and pregnancy. Similar to hypothyroidism, it may also be triggered by leaky gut, or a gluten intolerance.
Since both hypo and hyperthyroidism can be caused by gluten sensitivities and other food intolerances, you should start by having a food intolerance test. You may also want to consider the possibility of leaky gut syndrome. If you have taken antibiotics, steroids or pain relievers, and you have symptoms such as poor immunity, chronic diarrhea, constipation, joint pain, memory loss, brain fog, skin rashes and/or cravings for carbs, leaky gut is a real possibility. A holistic healthcare practitioner can help you to identify leaky gut and design a protocol to restore your gut health.
Testing for and treating common hormone imbalances and adrenal fatigue, and following a detoxification protocol may also be beneficial. Finally, if you have symptoms of hypothyroidism, you should test your iodine levels. Iodine is a key component of thyroid hormones and insufficient iodine impairs the production of those hormones. If a deficiency is identified, you can restore your levels safely and naturally with RAD Iodine.