What You Must Know About Your Thyroid

Are you tired, depressed, cold or irritable, and do you experience swollen joints and poor memory? Maybe you are having difficulty losing weight, even though you have tried everything. Do you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, muscle cramps or difficulty swallowing? If so, you need to have your thyroid checked, as these symptoms may indicate low thyroid production.

Thyroid 101

Your thyroid gland controls how quickly the body uses energy, makes protein and works with the sex hormones, adrenal glands and neurotransmitters (blood chemistry that affects our moods, mental function and physical well-being).

Perhaps you have had your thyroid lab done and your doctor said it was “normal.” You look good on paper, but you know you are not well. Maybe you have even noticed hair loss. “It’s probably stress,” your doctor says, and that could be. However, since almost everyone today is feeling stressed, we would be a bald-headed nation if stress alone caused hair loss.

When you gradually get out of bed in the morning and the first thing you see in the mirror are your puffy eyes and swollen eyelids, you may have a thyroid issue. If the outermost part of your eyebrows are thinning or missing and your hair looks dry and brittle, consider getting your thyroid levels checked.

Thyroid hormones help the cells function to produce energy. The thyroid gland produces more T4 (80%), but it is inactive. T3 is 20% of the thyroid hormones and is active. The majority of T4 is converted to T3 inside the cells of the body.

Every cell in the body has receptor sites for thyroid hormones! If your thyroid gland is not functioning well, it can affect every organ in your body, often producing multiple symptoms.

The problem is, according to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, more than 57 million Americans suffer from a thyroid problem, but 50% go undiagnosed!

The good news is once you have the right tests done and see a doctor knowledgeable about proper thyroid function, you can live an energetic, happy, healthy life without the above symptoms.

Get Tested

The right thyroid tests are the place to start.

Suggested thyroid labs:

  • TSH Thyroid-stimulating hormone
  • T4 total
  • T3 total
  • Free T 3
  • Free T 4
  • Reverse T 3
  • Thyroid peroxidase antibodies
  • Thyroglobulin antibodies
  • Iodine
  • Iron

If your doctor just orders a TSH, ask for the others too.

Sadly, we see patients whose thyroid glands are slowly destroyed year after year until finally they are diagnosed with low thyroid (hypothyroid). Unfortunately, by this time, their treatment options are limited to just thyroid hormone replacement.

Low thyroid can be caused by an autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s), and imbalances of the endocrine system, toxins, medication, gluten sensitivity, nutrient deficiencies, stress, surgery, pituitary gland dysfunction and inflammation can all compromise your thyroid function.

Thyroid Nodules

It is important to have any thyroid nodules examined and to be aware that the presence of nodules tends to increase as people age:

  • 50% of people age 50 have thyroid nodules
  • 60% of people age 60 have thyroid nodules
  • 70% of people age 70 have thyroid nodules.

Generally, multiple nodules that may be tender are benign. A solitary non-painful nodule should be checked to rule out thyroid cancer.

Remember, you deserve your best life, which includes normal thyroid function.

Dr. Sharon Norling practices Advanced Functional Medicine in Westlake Village. Call 818.707.9355 or visit  DrSharonNorling.com.