Hypothyroidism is common for several reasons. First and foremost is the Standard American Diet, which contains large amounts of sugars and other sweeteners, gluten and dairy. All of these negatively affect the thyroid. Second is our water, which in many places has been fluorinated to protect our teeth. However, fluoride is toxic to the thyroid. BPA found in water and plastics can negatively impact all of our hormones, including our thyroid hormones. Chronic stress also impacts the thyroid.
Most doctors will check a pituitary hormone, TSH, to indirectly test thyroid function. While this can rule out overt hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, it does not detect more subtle forms of thyroid dysfunction. It is important to check the levels of active (free T3) and inactive (free T4) thyroid hormones as well as levels of reverse T3 (anti-thyroid), which binds to the same receptors as free T3 but turns off what free T3 turns on. If you have more reverse T3 than free T3, you will have symptoms of hypothyroidism, but your TSH will remain normal. You may also have normal thyroid levels but elevated thyroid antibodies, which would indicate an autoimmune form of thyroid disease, like Hashimoto’s. This means that your immune system is attacking your thyroid, and you may have symptoms now, but it may take years to show up on bloodwork. Finally, your thyroid abnormalities could be the result of another medical condition, such as diabetes, sex hormone deficiencies, stress hormone (cortisol) excess, or B12 deficiency.
Identifying these thyroid conditions early is important because many of them can be reversed through lifestyle changes and supplements. In many cases, the need to take thyroid hormones can be prevented. However, if thyroid replacement is necessary, there are multiple treatment options, so it’s important to find a doctor who is knowledgeable in this area. If you’re concerned about your thyroid, I can help you find some answers.
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