Imagine yourself with energy, complete mental clarity, a high level of motivation and no weight issues. This seems unimaginable for many of my patients, initially. That is because they have sought help in the past to no avail. Those who suffer with fatigue, low motivation and weight gain commonly have a condition called hypothyroidism. While we hear about this condition often, it is commonly underdiagnosed and these sufferers are inadequately cared for in most medical settings. To diagnose this condition, frequently
doctors run blood work only checking for levels of TSH, or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. This is a hormone which is released from the hypothalamus in the brain with the primary goal of stimulating the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones. This is the medical standard to determine if a patient is suffering from a low thyroid state, or hypothyroidism. Unfortunately, the ranges used for TSH are so broad (.5-5mU/L) that many who actually have hypothyroidism do not get adequately diagnosed. A level exceeding 5mU/L would qualify for the diagnosis of hypothyroidism. Therefore, if a person's lab value is 4.9 mU/L, even if they have all the aforementioned symptoms, they are merely sent home to deal with these symptoms on their own without an adequate treatment. This is partly because most other lab markers that demonstrate a low thyroid state are overlooked. In addition, most doctors rely more on the lab results than on the patient's symptomology. A Complete lab analysis along with patients subjective feelings need to be considered for best diagnoses.
Once the thyroid gland is triggered by TSH from the hypothalamus, it starts making thyroid hormone. However, most of the thyroid hormone that is made by the thyroid gland is inactive. This hormone is called T4. T4 needs to get converted into the active form of thyroid, called T3, in the peripheral tissues before it can have any effect on the metabolism in the body. The process of conversion of T4 to T3 can be altered by many factors such as excess circulating hormones, namely estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Stress also has a dramatic effect on thyroid function. It can block the release of TSH, reduce the conversion of T4 to T3, as well as increase production of an inactive form thyroid hormone, called Reverse T3, in place of active T3. To complicated things further, other factors can prevent the release of TSH in the brain. Neurotransmitters such as Dopamine and Serotonin have a stimulatory effect on the TSH. Therefore, if the neurons in the brain are not releasing enough serotonin or dopamine, TSH will not be adequately stimulated and released, leading to a low thyroid function. Last but not least is the effect our immune system has on the Thyroid gland. As our world becomes more and more toxic and stress levels rise, the immune system responds by going haywire. When one part of the immune system becomes hyperactive due to these environmental assaults, it will start recognizing normal tissues as foreign and will attack and destroy them. One such tissue is the Thyroid gland. Many people have hypothyroidism because their thyroid is being destroyed by their own immune system. This condition is called Hashimoto's, and research shows this to be one of the most common Thyroid conditions in our modern society. Unfortunately, it is not commonly tested for and is overlooked by many doctors.
In order to adequately diagnose thyroid conditions, all the factors affecting it need to be looked at and evaluated. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and suspect hypothyroidism or have already been diagnosed and treated with thyroid hormones, yet you experience some of those unwanted symptoms, you may want to take a new look at your thyroid. Dr. Vida Talebi is available to answer any questions you may have about your thyroid, either on the phone or in person, during a complimentary 15 minutes time slot.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Vida Talebi, ND