The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located in the base of your neck. It releases hormones that control metabolism—the way your body uses energy.
It produces the master metabolism hormones that control every function in your body. Thyroid hormones interact with all your other hormones including insulin, cortisol, and sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Considering how vital thyroid hormones it makes sense that hypothyroidism can be associated with widespread symptoms and diseases. The symptoms of hypothyroidism can be mild, moderate or severe.
Hypothyroidism is very common among women (but men suffer from it, too) and is more prevalent as we age. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly recognizes the thyroid tissue cells as foreign and begins attacking and destroying them. It produces antibodies to the thyroid.
Some people get a huge relief from symptoms caused by Hashimoto’s by following a gluten free diet or going on an elimination diet to find which foods they may be reacting too.
Environmental toxins are associated with autoimmune disease, and Hashimoto’s is no exception. Mercury can bypass our barrier system and cause a chronic and reactive immune response.
Many people continue to suffer with undiagnosed thyroid issues because they are not given the right tests to diagnose it. The symptoms can be vague and they are told their levels are in range and are healthy. It is common for doctors to tell patients that they must be depressed or stressed or overdoing it and that is what is causing the profound fatigue.
The thyroid gland produces three hormones:
- Triiodothyronine or T3
- Tetraiodothyronine, also called thyroxine, or T4
Medical practitioners and GPs in Australia commonly use TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) to monitor changes in the thyroid function. Although a high TSH indicates hypothyroidism, it is often only found to be altered in chronic states of dysfunction of the thyroid. In many cases TSH is still in range yet an individual has too low of thyroid hormones and is symptomatic.
Free T3 and Free T4 are better indicators of the active thyroid hormones produced by the actual thyroid. Thyroxine (T4) is peripherally converted in the liver and kidney cells into the active hormone T3. These hormones are made up of the amino acid Tyrosine (T) and Iodine surrounding the molecule (indicated by the number). When looking at thyroid health you are looking for free t3 to be in the top quarter of the range and free t4 midrange. What if these both look good but symptoms are still present?
What is Reverse T3?
Reverse t3 is converted in the liver from t4 as a way for the body to get rid of any excess t4 hormone.
High reverse t3 is significant with ongoing thyroid symptoms because too high reverse t3 will block free t3 from entering the cells. So even though your ft3 and ft4 may be in the optimal part of the range, you can still have symptoms.
Not all doctors will recommend the Reverse T3 test when ordering your labs, and so you might need to look at other values. For example, if your free T4 is within normal range and the free T3 is low, then this can be an indicator of a high RT3. But of course the best method is to actually order the RT3 blood test. Sometimes the Reverse T3 won’t be high, but instead there will be a problem with the ratio between RT3 and the free T3.
Factors that can elevate Reverse T3 Levels are:
- Selenium deficiency
- Potassium and zinc Deficiency
- Any ongoing biological or emotional stress affecting adrenals
- chronic illness
- mercury, cadmium and lead toxicity
- low protein intake or poor digestion
- fasting or malabsorption
- compromised liver or kidney function
- Low iron
Autoimmune thyroid tests:
Thyroid antibodies, including thyroid peroxidase antibodies and anti-thyroglobulin antibodies. This measure helps determine if your body is attacking your thyroid, overreacting to its own tissues (ie, autoimmune reactions).
Common Low Thyroid Symptoms
There are many unpleasant symptoms associated with a sluggish thyroid:
- Headaches (including migraines)
- Adult acne
- Dry, coarse or thick skin
- Anxiety, nervousness
- Swollen eyelids, face and water retention
- Low sex drive
- Low blood pressure and heart rate
- Tendency to feel cold especially in extremities
- Tendency to gain weight
- Low energy, fatigue or requiring more sleep
- Slow to get going in the morning
- Brittle, dry hair
- Thinning hair
- Brain fog, poor short term memory
- Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
- Thinning or loss of outer third of eyebrows
- High cholesterol
Get in touch if you’re feeling tired for no reason or have any of the other signs or symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as dry skin, a pale, puffy face, constipation or a hoarse voice. To get started too, you can also take your temperature as an initial sign to see if you maybe suffering from low thyroid symptoms. Your temperature should be 37 degrees celsius. Another sign of hypothyroidism is a low basal body temperature (BBT), less than 36.4 degrees averaged over a minimum of 3 days. It is best to use a BBT thermometer for this and measure it first thing without moving out of the bed.
If you would like immediate help with hypothyroid symptoms and testing.
Call today to discuss your options or make an appointment right now.