There are only a handful of receptors we’ve found on every single cell in the human body. Thyroid hormone receptors are one of those extremely important structures that has been found on every cell in your body. This means unhealthy thyroid function reduces all the cells in your body to function at a less than optimal level. Because thyroid hormones affect your whole body hypothyroid symptoms can be quite diffuse and present differently in different patients. Below are the 5 most common hypothyroid symptoms.
- Thinning Hair
- Weight Gain
- Feeling Cold/Having Cold Hands and Feet
- Morning headaches
- Thinning of the outer 1/3 of the eyebrow
Step 1a: If you have the above hypothyroid symptoms and are NOT diagnosed
If you have hypothyroid symptoms as listed above we need to get proper testing. The short version of the story is standard testing of TSH only is inadequate especially if you have the above symptoms. Please read our other blogs for more information on proper thyroid testing. In short we recommend the following panel: TSH, free T4, free T3, Total T4, Total T3, T3 uptake, Reverse T3, TPO ab, TGB ab.
Step 1b: If you are diagnosed and on medication and yet STILL have hypothyroid symptoms
This is the situation that makes me the most sad when I hear it. Levothyroxine has been shown in studies to fix the TSH blood test. This is great…but it has also been shown that certain patients don’t feel any better when TSH normalizes. I have written an longer article on this and plan to detail and 2nd study soon emphasizing the same point. I will link below for the longer article but here are the cliff notes.
- Care for patients with hypothyroidism should take into account more than just the TSH level.
- Care for patients with hypothyroidism should take into account the free T3 and free T4 levels.
- Care for patients with hypothyroidism should take into account patient’s symptoms.
Hypothyroid Symptoms 1: Thinning Hair/Hair Loss
Patients are always surprised when I bring this up, but levothyroxine (the main generic medication for treating hypothyroidism) was the #2 prescribed medication in the country last year! Hypothyroidism is an extremely common condition and the most common symptom (with over 81% of suffers having it) is females with unhealthy hair! If you are struggling with thinning hair or hair falling out in droves it is a huge, huge flag for your thyroid function.
Hypothyroid symptom 2 & 3: Fatigue and Depression/Anxiety
Because thyroid hormones signal the cells to make energy it should not be a surprise that fatigue is a hypothyroid symptom. However the depression/anxiety is often a surprise to many patients. Depression and anxiety are viewed neurologically as dysfunction in the frontal lobes of our brain. The brain is a huge energy hog in humans. In fact, at rest it is the largest energy hog taking up nearly 23% of our fuel. When the thyroid breaks down and energy is not created efficiently, we often get symptoms in these high metabolic cells first. If we think of both depression and anxiety as “fatigue of the brain” Couple this with poor thyroid testing and doctors are quick to give out anti-depressants to fix the depression in patients when the real root of their depression is in their hypothyroidism that has been missed!
Hypothyroid Symptom 4 & 6: Weight Gain/Difficulty Losing Weight
Thyroid hormones help our cells burn energy, but they specifically help us burn fat for energy. Without thyroid hormones our body turns to the stress hormone cortisol for energy production. While this works to survive, it comes at a cost. Thyroid hormones propel our body to burn our most efficient fuel source…FAT. Cortisol compels our body to burn our quickest fuel source…SUGAR! This leads to sugar cravings and an inability to burn fat! One hypothyroid symptom we look for is a patient who is working out and not losing fat. Because you are not burning fat patients often feel cold. If you wear sweaters or need a space heater when others in your office/home do not that can be a hypothyroid symptom.
Hypothyroid Symptom 5: Constipation & Bloating
Thyroid hormones spur on activity. Without them nothing moves much. Think of fatigue of the digestive system as constipation. The problem with constipation is that it leads to an unhealthy gut flora. Often we are going to the gut to help heal a person, but it can be difficult to fix a gut for any length of time if the thyroid is not functioning well.
If you are struggling with these symptoms don’t accept it as “normal”! Health people don’t have these symptoms. If there is smoke then there is fire. Don’t give up on your health. Contact us to begin your health journey today!