Understanding Hypothyroidism: Diagnosis and Treatment

In this country, thyroid disease is affecting approximately 20 million people, the majority of which are women. Thyroid disease is often a case of overactive thyroid (hyperthyroid) or under-active thyroid (hypothyroid). Hypothyroidism is much more prevalent in the United States and is most often due to antibodies attacking the thyroid gland (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis). This attack on the thyroid eventually leads to an under active thyroid gland, but symptoms can often go overlooked while the body continues to try to produce enough hormone.

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that is found on the front of the neck.

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that is found on the front of the neck.

The thyroid is responsible for body temperature regulation, metabolism and affects every organ in your body. When it is not functioning properly your body suffers. If you have been experiencing any of these symptoms below, you may have an a low functioning thyroid.


  • Fatigue
  • Brain Fog
  • Constipation
  • Dry Skin
  • Thinning hair or loss of outer portion of eyebrows
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Joint pain or stiffness
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Heavy or irregular menses
  • Memory trouble
  • Infertility

Appropriate Testing:
Having the correct testing is crucial to ensuring proper treatment. While many physicians will test TSH alone, this is not enough to give a complete picture of what is taking place in your body. And while testing is important, test results should be interpreted with the person’s symptoms in mind. TSH, free T4, free T3, thyroid antibodies, reverse T3,  and T3 uptake are all labs that your doctor should consider testing if you have the above symptoms.

Examining Other Systems:
Successful thyroid treatment often requires that we look at other systems. Sex hormones and adrenal function play an important role in thyroid health. Supporting these systems is necessary in thyroid health. Additionally, gut imbalances can also affect the health of the thyroid, especially in cases of autoimmunity (Hashimoto’s).

Treating the Thyroid:
Thyroid treatment should be individualized. While one medication may work for one person, it may not be effective in helping another. Additionally, appropriate supplements and nutrition should be utilized to support thyroid function and facilitate activation of thyroid hormone. While it is recognized that iodine is important in thyroid health, it has been shown that increased intake of iodine can cause an increase in antibodies that attack the thyroid. In the case of Hashimoto’s, immune system regulation must also be a focus for treatment to be successful. It is important that you have seek treatment from an experienced doctor to ensure you are receiving the best care for your thyroid health.

Read about Dietary Approaches to Autoimmune Thyroid Disease.

Dr. Brighten works with many patients suffering from thyroid disease, both hyper and hypothyroidism. Dr. Brighten invites you to contact her today if you’ve been experiencing any of the symptoms listed above and are ready to begin feeling better.

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About The Author

Dr. Jolene Brighten

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Dr. Jolene Brighten is a licensed Functional Medicine Naturopathic Doctor, best selling author, speaker, and mother. Dr. Brighten specializes in women’s health, from fertility to postpartum care, adrenal and thyroid support, autoimmune conditions, and digestive disorders. In her patient centered practice, Dr. Brighten thrives on navigating the space between conventional and alternative medicine, all while working with patients to help them achieve optimum balance, health, and happiness.