What's Up with Your Thyroid?
Nov 5, 2013
Many of you who know me know that I have suffered with symptoms of a low-functioning thyroid for the past several years. I'm coming up on my 3 year anniversary of my diagnosis soon and thought this would be a good time to share some of my experience and offer up some advice for those of you who may be victims of a misdiagnosis.
First, I want to say that this post is not to convince you that you have an underactive thyroid, as many of the symptoms overlap with symptoms from many other ailments. My purpose is to educate you so you can take your own knowledge to your healthcare provider in an effort to solve why you're feeling the way you're feeling lately...or have been feeling for quite some time!
Three years ago I went to my OBGYN (who also functioned as my primary care provider) with extreme fatigue, brain fog, severe insomnia, loss of motivation, trouble gaining strength during my workouts and (this was the kicker) hair falling out by the handful. She ran some blood work on me and to our surprise, everything was "normal." She put me on a low-dose birth control in hopes that my system would "balance itself out." That was the tip of the iceberg...my symptoms got WORSE!
I have to get off my chest my issues with conventional testing of thyroid health. More often than not when you get annual blood work, the only test the doctor orders for the thyroid is thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). This is the only measure my OBGYN took when assessing me those years ago. Guess what? Although it sounds like it comes from the thyroid, it doesn't TSH is secreted from the pituitary gland in the brain. It's job is to regulate the production of hormones that actually come from the thyroid--T4 and T3.
T4 is the inactive form of thyroid hormone. It's basically a lame duck hormone that is waiting to be converted into the active form T3 after the addition of iodine. Most of T4 gets converted to T3 while a smidge is left behind to be converted in reverse T3. This reverse T3 is responsible for slowing down metabolism if your body senses that it needs to conserve energy. For instance, if you're on a extreme restricted-calorie diet or dealing with the flu, your production of reverse T3 is increased to slow metabolism in an effort to save all energy to deal with what perceived stressors your body is currently dealing with.
Now, let's put it all together with an example of what the numbers look like in action. This is easy for me because I'm going to use ME as the example!
After being assessed as within the "normal" reference range by my OBGYN, I realized that the reference range of "normal" could not be my "normal" because I still felt like crap, I still wasn't sleeping, I got to be even moodier, and my hair was thinning like crazy. I did the research necessary to find someone who would find the root cause of my problem since my thyroid obviously wasn't the issue if you were to ask my original doc.
That's when I was introduced to alternative medicine, a branch of the medical community that uses more Eastern philosophies and techniques geared towards healing the root cause of illness and not simply treating the symptoms. After I met with my doctor for the first time, I knew I was making the right choice in getting another opinion.
Long (very long!) story short, all necessary measures were taken to assess my thyroid health. All of the above tests were ordered and TADA! There it was...plain as day. My TSH levels were sky high and my active thyroid hormone (T3) were virtually nonexistent.
So, what does that mean? It means that my pituitary gland in my brain was steady pumping TSH in an effort to awaken a sleeping thyroid gland to produce more thyroid hormones. Since the thyroid wasn't responding, the pituitary was pumping more and more TSH to get things back to functionally optimally. It obviously wasn't happening.
And that's when we realized I had been suffering for a reason. I had Hashimoto's Thyroiditis--the number one reason why people suffer from hypothyroidism.
Since my diagnosis I have taken my health in my own hands. I've chosen to heal myself naturally, from the inside out, without the use of pharmaceuticals. I will say that it's been a long, hard road with humps and bumps along the way. However, I will also say that you never know just how bad you felt until you feel good again...and I now feel great!
The answer is in understanding your symptoms and knowing what to talk to your doctor about. If you’re feeling or experiencing any of the following on a regular, persistent basis you should make note and call your physician for a consultation soon:
- Depression or moodiness
- Unwanted weight gain
- Cold intolerance
- Excessive sleepiness despite hours of sleep
- Dry, coarse hair or hair loss
- Dry skin and/or nails
- Muscle cramps or aches and pains
- Increased cholesterol
- Decreased concentration or brain fog
- Swelling of the legs
Educate yourself. Know that feeling like poop is not normal! Take care of your body…it’s the only place you have to live!
If you have any questions about thyroid health that you feel I could help you answer, I’m always able to chat. Don’t hesitate to contact me any time!