Symptoms of Thyroid Disorder

natural treatment for thyroid disordersThyroid disorders seem to be on the rise in modern civilization, but why? And how do we know if it’s something we deal with?

As many of you know, I’ve been basically feeling like crud for the last year. I’ve very much had feeling of depression and anxiety along with major fatigue and insomnia. I also think it’s probably something that’s been lingering for many, many years, yet only showed up in full force after my miscarriage.

I now am a believer that stress can cause or multiply health issues.

I’ve always dealt with many of the symptoms, but they’ve never interfered with my life before. Or they came and went within weeks/months. When I switched to a whole foods diet most, if not all of them, went away. But then I got too busy for my own good and had to have the help of a chiropractor friend to help pull me out of adrenal fatigue, and felt well afterwards.

But this last year has been a bugger of a year, as symptoms of a thyroid disorder showed up more and more. As a mom of young children, I shrugged off the fatigue. I mean, all moms are tired right? And the feelings of depression and anxiety could be related to the miscarriage and grief. Yet deep down I knew there was something else wrong.

My much awaited lab results showed me just that. And I have a feeling that many of you may also deal with thyroid issues and just don’t know it. Or maybe you’ve been tested and your doctor told you that everything was “normal”. Even when you feel that it’s not.

Thyroid Basics

We will just discuss the very basics of thyroid function, as to cover it all, we’d need to write a book!

The thyroid is a small endocrine gland, just above the adam’s apple in the throat, consisting of two parts. To me it sort of looks like a butterfly. An ugly one. This gland takes in iodine and produces thyroid hormones. Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation of their own metabolism. It detects shifts in body chemistry (chronic blood sugar imbalance, hormone imbalances, chronic inflammation, nutritional deficiencies, toxicity, liver congestion, poor digestive health, or even the use of hormones, synthetic or bio-identical) and helps the body compensate for them.

But the thyroid does not act alone. As with everything in holistic health, we must also look at how it functions along with other parts of our body. According to Datis Kharrazian in his book “Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms?“:

  1. The hypothalamus sends thyroid releasing hormone (TRH) to the pituitary. (this is basically the thermostat regulator in the body)
  2. The pituitary gland releases thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) to the thyroid gland, giving it the signal to produce more hormones.
  3. TSH stimulates thyroid peroxidase (TPO) activity to use iodine to create T4 and T3 hormones. 93% of the thyroid hormone production is T4, an inactive form which needs to be converted by different organs in the body. 7% is the usable T3. These hormones hitch a ride in the bloodstream on thyroid-binding proteins to the cells that need them and can convert the T4 to T3.
  4. 60% of the T4 produced by the thyroid is converted to T3 in the liver by an enzyme called tetraidothyronine 5’deiodinase. Another 20% of the T4 is converted in the digestive system via the sulfatase enzyme which is present in healthy guts.

Common Symptoms of HYPOthyroid (under active thyroid)

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Low basal body temps and/or low temperatures throughout the day
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Morning headaches that go away throughout the day
  • Infertility
  • Fatigue
  • Cloudy thinking
  • Weight gain or inability to lose weight easily
  • Sensitive to cold weather
  • Constipation
  • Digestive problems
  • Poor circulation
  • Slow wound healing
  • Need excessive amounts of sleep
  • Gets sick often (colds or viral infections)
  • Itchy and dry skin
  • Dry hair that breaks often, or thinning hair
  • Thinning of the outermost part of the eyebrow
  • High cholesterol

What happens in the body when you have hypothyroidism

There are actually different ways that hypothyroid happens in the body. Sometimes it’s because the pituitary senses the thyroid isn’t doing it’s job correctly and produces more thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Other times the pituitary is fatigued and not able to produce the TSH to signal the thyroid how many hormones to produce. Another pattern of hypothyroid is the inability of the body to convert T4 to T3 because of excess cortisol or chronic inflammation.

Some women with high levels of testosterone may also find that too much T4 is converted to T3, causing the cells of the body to become resistant to the hormone and not allowing it entry to do its work. (most often found in those with insulin resistance and PCOS- per “Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms?“)

Symptoms of HYPERthyroid (overactive thyroid)

  • heart palpitations
  • heat intolerance
  • nervousness
  • fast heart rate
  • hair loss
  • muscle weakness

What happens in the body when you have hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a medical term that basically means your thyroid is producing to many hormones so you have to many thyroid hormones for the cells. This could be due to the thyroid getting the signal to produce too much, or the inability of the cells to absorb the thyroid hormone.

The following may also indicate Hashimotos, an autoimmune thyroid disorder:

  • heart palpitations
  • inward trembling
  • increased pulse rate, even at rest
  • feelings of nervousness and emotional distress
  • night sweats
  • difficulty gaining weight
  • people with Hashimoto’s also tend to go back and forth between the symptoms of hypo and hyper thyroid.

What happens in the body when you have Hashimoto’s

This is an autoimmune disease where your immune system is actively attacking your thyroid, destroying it. It is also the most common cause of hypothyroidism, some sources stating that up to 90% of hypothyroid cases are due to Hashimoto’s. This causes the thyroid to continue to lose function, eventually not working at all. It can cause hypothyroid symptoms  and then can change to hyperthyroid symptoms as a “flare-up” destroys the thyroid tissue and hormones stored in the gland flow into the bloodstream. Once these hormones get into the bloodstream, the body’s metabolism speeds up, and a person will experience the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

The good news

You don’t have to live your life feeling like junk; depressed, anxious, overwhelmed, and overweight. There is hope for fixing thyroid issues without lifelong medications, and in the following days/weeks, we’ll be talking about ways to heal the body and focus on supporting your thyroid.

Have you had your thyroid checked? Your homework for the next couple of days is to call your doctor and get your test results. I cannot stress this enough! You need to find out your numbers and have them tell you exactly what thyroid hormones were tested and what ranges they used to decide what “normal” function is.

We’ll continue this conversation!

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About Donielle

Donielle is an amateur herbalist and natural momma to two littles (with another babe in heaven) after dealing with being less than fertile. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health.

Comments

  1. Thanks Donielle! I’m really looking forward to these articles!

  2. I had my thyroid checked a few years ago and it came back right in their range of normal. My TSH was 2.18 and their range of “normal” was .45-4.5. I have a few of the thyroid symptoms but not the main one, which seems to be weight gain and difficulty losing weight. Mine are more along the lines of cold hands/feet and low waking temps (I think) that normalize throughout the day.

  3. YES! Get it checked! Preferably by a naturopath or someone who might actually consider that it’s a problem even in “normal” range.

    Having my thyroid being out of whack caused marriage problems and 2 miscarriages. About 3 days after starting Armour Thyroid, I felt human again.

    Honestly, it should be up there with diabetes, cholesterol and other regularly checked bloodwork.

    I’m so glad you are writing these articles. I would have been so grateful to stumble upon them 4 years ago!!

  4. I am really enjoying this series! Keep all the great info coming!

  5. Thanks so much for sharing your story! I’ve been “feeling like crud” and having MANY of these symptoms since my daughter was born 9 months ago. I keep going to the doctor, being told that everything is “normal” and getting discouraged. I’m going to go back and ask for the complete range of thyroid tests, even if I need to pay for them myself!

  6. WestOzGirl says:

    Could iodine deficiency and halogen overload explain the increase in hypothyroidism?

    donielle Reply:

    @WestOzGirl, Most definitely on the iodine subject, but I have not heard anything about halogen overload. Thanks for the tip – I have more research to do! :-)

  7. Donielle,

    Thank you for this series. It is very relevant to me. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism 20 years ago (when I was 12), then diagnosed with Hashimoto’s about 10 years later. I also have ulcerative colitis (but have had no issues with that in about 6 years!!!) and antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (a clotting disorder) – both of which are autoimmune diseases. I have made pretty drastic changes in my lifestyle and food choices over these last 10 years yet have been unable to effect change on the thyroid. Even with proper medication (and proper testing of all the different levels, I still exhibit symptoms).

    However, some of your research has led me to further research of my own. These discoveries have been eye opening. I believe I may have just decided to embark on a gluten-free, legume-free, sugar-free lifestyle – at least for the time being until I can have the effects tested.