Posted: 12 November 2009 at 10:20pm | IP Logged
The thyroid gland sits below the Adam's apple in the front part of the throat, and secretes thyroid hormone into the bloodstream. This hormone regulates metabolism, body temperature, protein synthesis, energy levels, muscle strength, body weight and fertility.
Many individuals, especially females between the ages of 30 and 50, begin to experience symptoms associated with low thyroid function. Symptoms frequently experienced are: depression, fatigue, mental fogginess, insomnia, cold intolerance, dry coarse skin, weight gain, PMS, headaches, low libido, hair loss, muscle and joint achiness, brittle nails, infertility, increased LDL-cholesterol, B12 deficiency (anemia), chest pain, constipation, and low basal (arm pit) temperature.
Of course, many of the symptoms noted can be related to other conditions, however, checking thyroid function should not be overlooked. A simple home method of assessing thyroid function is to perform the Barnes Basal Temperature Test. This test requires a basal thermometer and three consecutive mornings. Place the thermometer next to the bed the night before testing. First thing upon awakening, place the thermometer under your armpit and lie still for 10-minutes, then record your temperature. Do this for three mornings. Normal temperature readings are between 97.8 and 98.2 degrees F. Three consecutive days of below normal readings indicates a low functioning thyroid, which requires further evaluation via blood testing.
A complete thyroid assessment should include the following blood tests: Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), free T4, free T3, anti-TG antibody titer and anti-TPO antibody titer. Often, the antibody tests are not done and this omission could very well lead to inaccurate assessment and wrong diagnosis. For instance, early Hashimoto's disease (autoimmune thyroiditis) presents with normal TSH, T4 and T3 levels, but will produce anti-TPO antibodies. Considering that many hypothyroid females have autoimmune thyroid dysfunction, not including antibody testing will miss this diagnosis which can potentially cause damage to the thyroid gland that otherwise could have been prevented.
Females suffering from low thyroid function should also consider having their sex hormones (estradiol and progesterone) checked via saliva testing. Elevated estradiol and/or low progesterone levels can negatively influence thyroid hormone uptake (usage) at the cellular level, thereby producing hypothyroid symptoms.
Autoimmune thyroid dysfunction is a common problem and an often-missed diagnosis as already noted. Underlying potential causes are viruses, food borne bacteria, antigens (leaky gut), diet (soy), toxins (pesticides, fertilizers, dioxin, plastics, mercury and fluoride), celiac (gluten intolerance) disease and genetic susceptibility.
Finding the underlying cause of low thyroid function requires a thorough evaluation. Seeking the help of a practitioner who specializes in functional and preventative medicine is beneficial not only in proper work up and diagnosis, but in treatment and management protocols including alternative methods.
Author of The Naked Truth: Overweight, Overwhelmed and Confused