Understanding Hypothyroidism: Diagnosis and Treatment

Understanding hypothyroidism both diagnosis and treatment is important in getting the care you need.

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).

Understanding Hypothyroidism Diagnosis and Treatment

What Causes Hypothyroidism?

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.

Hypothyroid Diagnosis Means Looking At Symptoms

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.

Symptoms:

  • 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

Hypothyroid Diagnosis Means Looking At Labs

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).

Hypothyroidism Treatment

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.

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About The Author

Dr. Jolene Brighten

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Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD, is one of the leading experts in women’s medicine and is a pioneer in her exploration of the far-reaching impact of hormonal birth control and the little known side effects that impact health in a large way. In her best selling book, Beyond the Pill, she shares her clinical protocols aimed at supporting women struggling with symptoms of hormone imbalance, including Post-Birth Control Pill Syndrome and birth control related side effects. A trained nutritional biochemist and Naturopathic Physician, Dr. Brighten is the founder and Clinic Director at Rubus Health, an integrative women’s medicine clinic. She is a member of the MindBodyGreen Collective and has been featured in prominent media outlets such as Forbes, Cosmopolitan, ABC news, and the New York Post. Read more about me here.