ARE YOU FUNCTIONING ON ALL CYLINDERS?
Thyroid disorders are common. In fact, about 12% of people will experience abnormal thyroid function at some point during their lives.
Women are eight times more likely to develop a thyroid disorder than men. Also, thyroid problems increase with age and may affect adults differently than children.
At the most basic level, thyroid hormone is responsible for coordinating energy, growth and metabolism in your body. Problems can occur when this hormone’s levels are too high or low.
If you often feel you’re dragging yourself through the day or you've been struggling to lose weight for a long while despite eating all the right things, it might be worth considering whether your thyroid is doing the job it should.
The thyroid – a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck – is the body’s internal motor, effectively setting the speed at which the body works. If it’s not up to scratch, you might experience a whole host of uncomfortable or annoying symptoms (see below).
The hormones it makes affect most cells in the body by increasing the basal metabolic rate, as well as augmenting heat production. That’s why people with an underactive thyroid often struggle to lose weight, feel the cold more easily and have low energy – imagine a record player playing a record at reduced speed.
Do any of these sound familiar?
· I feel tired all the time
· My hands and feet are always cold
· I’m putting on weight for no reason
· I can’t seem to lose weight whatever I do
· I’m often constipated
· My muscles ache
· I get muscle cramps more often
· I feel irritable
· Generally, I’m feeling a bit low
· I’m struggling to fall pregnant
· My periods are heavier than usual
· My hair and skin feel so dry
· My sex drive is flagging or non-existent
· I’m losing hair at the outer edge of my eyebrow.
If more than a few symptoms resonate with you, visit your GP to discuss symptoms and ask to get your thyroid tested.
One of three things will happen after you have a blood test at the GP. The doctor may tell you your results look normal, in which case no further action will be taken*. Or you might be sent for further testing, if the result looks a little off, either immediately or for a retest in a few months’ time.
It’s much more common to have an underactive thyroid than an overactive one, and more common still for the underactive thyroid to be an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s, where the immune system destroys the thyroid gland to the extent that it can no longer function normally.
However, even with a diagnosis, many people still experience symptoms in spite of treatment.
What actually gets tested?
In the UK, the first thing doctors test is Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels. TSH is the hormone that tells your body to produce the actual thyroid hormones. If TSH is within range, your GP is unlikely do any further tests on the assumption that the rest of the thyroid hormone-producing cascade is working correctly.
If TSH is raised, your body is working harder than necessary to produce the right levels of thyroid hormones. At this point, your doctor may repeat the TSH test in a few months in order to compare levels.
Alternatively, they might test your Thyroxine (T4) levels to determine whether or not you’re producing the right levels of this hormone.
If this level is below range, you’ll likely be prescribed a synthetic form of thyroxine to supply the body with what it is not making itself. If the levels is above range, which suggests an overactive thyroid, you may be prescribed carbimazole and perhaps a beta-blocker.
*Still feeling tired and ‘rubbish’ despite treatment?
This a common problem. Initially, you may start to feel better, but many patients report sliding back into their previous pattern of symptoms. The reasons why you’re not feeling better can be complex.
Supplementing with T4 might not work, as what’s going on in your body might be more complicated and involve several issues.
Some people produce enough TSH and T4, but T4 isn’t actually the hormone that does the work.
Triidothyronine (T3) is the ‘work horse’ that needs to be converted in the liver from T4. Some people, for various reasons, simply don’t convert it very well.
In other cases, you might produce enough TSH, T4 and T3, but the body negates the effects of the usable T3 by making reverse T3 (rT3) –literally reversing the action of T3.
Everything may ‘look normal’, but if you’re still dragging yourself through the day, you could have sub-clinical thyroid problems. GP ranges are quite broad, so it’s easy to fall outside the limits.
It’s worth knowing that regular GP testing does not cover T3 or rT3, so if you’re still feeling below par, it’s worth getting a full thyroid blood screen done privately. I work with all major private laboratories and can arrange this for you.
Ready to get that thyroid back into shape?
There are a number of different tests, which we can use to measure your thyroid levels. These include a full blood draw, finger prick blood spot test and a urine test. I take a full medical history and evaluate my clients before deciding on the best option. If you have an underactive thyroid and are feeling below par, despite medication, I can help. Medication is just a piece of the puzzle. Why not contact me here [Acuity link here].
GET EXPERT READY TO GET THAT THYROID BACK INTO SHAPE? GET EXPERT HELP
There are a number of different tests, which we can use to measure your thyroid levels. These include a full blood draw, finger prick blood spot test and a urine test. I take a full medical history and evaluate my clients before deciding on the best option. If you have an underactive thyroid and are feeling below par, despite medication, I can help. Medication is just a piece of the puzzle. Why not contact me here CLICK HERE
I offer all clients a free mini session to help them take their first steps to making a change.