One of the most common symptoms that brings patients to my office is fatigue. Many people have fatigue, constipation, weight gain, changes in hair, skin and nails and have asked to have their thyroid checked by their provider only to be told that their thyroid is normal.
Often times only the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is checked and this is a hormone that is sent from the pituitary in the brain to stimulate the thyroid to make more or less thyroid hormones depending on blood levels and may not accurately represent how much thyroid hormone is actually present. T4 and T3 are thyroid hormones that regulate energy, metabolism, heat, cold, brain function, gut and many more important functions in our bodies. Even when levels are low normal, I may recommend treating symptoms and often patients feel significantly better. Treatment options may include lifestyle recommendations, supplements or medication and is determined by an agreement between the patient and myself.
I also check for autoimmune thyroid disease when seeing somebody for the first time. Autoimmune thyroid antibodies that are above normal can affect how well the thyroid works, usually causing hypo or low thyroid function, but occasionally may cause hyper or elevated thyroid. Treatment for positive autoimmune thyroid is focused primarily on an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. It is believed that there are 3 components to expressing autoimmune antibodies: (1) the genetic predisposition, (2) a triggering event such as inflammation, internal or external stress, and (3) “leaky gut” or gut permeability. Once there are antibodies present, we work to decrease them which may improve thyroid function.
Other factors can affect thyroid function such as high stress and adrenal issues, male or female hormone imbalances, vitamin and mineral imbalances and many others. If you have symptoms of hypothyroid ask your provider to test TSH, free T4, free T3, thyroid peroxidase antibodies, thyroglobulin panel and consider reverse T3. If your provider is not comfortable ordering these labs, consider finding a functional medicine provider to help you to find answers to your symptoms.