January Thyroid Awareness Month
This butterfly-shaped gland is located in the base of the neck just below the Adam’s apple. The Thyroid is a relatively small gland that plays an important role that influences the function of many important organs–when there is imbalance it will impact your overall well-being. It is estimated that 200 million people worldwide have a Thyroid Disorder and about half are undiagnosed.
We would like to bring awareness by answering some important and relevant questions to help you optimize the health of this small but vital gland.
Q. What are the symptoms of poor working conditions of this gland?
A. The symptoms of an underactive (hypo) thyroid include physical, mental and emotional changes and, overall, involve a general slowing down (since our thyroid sets our metabolism). The most common symptoms include cold hands and feet, dry, thinning hair, unexplained weight gain or inability to lose weight, low energy and fatigue, and depression.
Q. Should I go to my doctor if I have these symptoms, and if so, what kind of testing can I expect?
A. Yes, if you are experiencing these symptoms it is time to schedule an appointment with your family physician. You can expect him or her to send you for a blood test to measure the level of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). The level of this hormone gives a good inverse measure of where your thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) are at. The higher your TSH, the lower your T3 and T4—and the more underactive your thyroid.
Q. What if my blood work is “normal” but I have the symptoms of hypothyroidism?
A. This is a common condition known as subclinical hypothyroidism, and involves hormone levels that are not quite at the level to be diagnosable with hypothyroidism. However, the symptoms are present despite the lack of diagnosis, and your thyroid is functioning sub-optimally, so we recommend applying a nutritional protocol for hypothyroidism to boost the health of your thyroid gland. Check out our two thyroid-related blogs we have posted in the past and the Thermogenic (thyroid-boosting) section of our Weight Management App.
Q. If you take Synthroid or Thyroxin for hypothyroidism. Is there anything I should know about taking it properly?
A. If you take Synthroid or Thyroxin, the synthetic version of your thyroid hormone and the treatment for hypothyroidism, there are a few things to note that could affect its ability to work properly. You should take your medication on an empty stomach (preferably at least a half hour before or two hours after a meal, and at the same time every day) and with a full glass of water. Also, you should take it at least 4 hours apart from your supplements (especially calcium) to ensure that they are not interacting.
Q. You have recently been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease. What exactly is it?
A. Hashimoto’s Disease is an autoimmune condition where your immune system produces antibodies that bind to your thyroid gland and affect its ability to make thyroid hormones. Hashimoto’s can manifest as both hyper- and hypothyroidism, and individuals often cycle from one end of the spectrum to the other. We recommend an anti-inflammatory approach for this condition, and gently building the immune system while being careful not to boost it.
For all the latest on optimum thyroid-friendly nutrition and meal-planning, download our Weight Management App and check out the Thermogenic (metabolism-boosting) section—it’ll become your go-to for all your thyroid needs!