According to the American Thyroid Association, an estimated 20 million Americans are currently struggling with some type of thyroid dysfunction. More than half of those haven’t been diagnosed and are currently unaware that their thyroid is not functioning properly. Worldwide, as many as 200 million people struggle with thyroid dysfunction…and the problem is rapidly growing. Women are up to eight times more likely than men to experience thyroid-related problems.
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that is found in the base of the neck. Its job is to release hormones that help control metabolism and regulate important functions in the body such as body weight, temperature, cholesterol levels, breathing, and heart rate. It also helps to control the central and peripheral nervous systems. The thyroid can become both over and underactive. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid is under-functioning and hyperthyroidism when the thyroid is over-functioning.
In the US, hypothyroidism is underdiagnosed. This happens because most doctors only use two tests to screen, missing other potential indications of dysfunction. They also rely on laboratory reference ranges, and not functional reference ranges and can miss the subtler signs of dysfunction that may be present.
What are the top signs of thyroid dysfunction?
Do you regularly sleep 7-9 hours a night or more? If you still have fatigue which prevents you from functioning during the day without stopping for a nap, you may have a thyroid problem. Intense fatigue strongly relates to hypothyroidism. What separates thyroid-related fatigue from other causes is that nothing that relieves it. No matter how much sleep you get, you will still be tired and have trouble functioning. And It is one of the most common thyroid-related symptoms that doctors see.
If you are eating a healthy diet, not eating too much food, and exercising regularly, and the scale won’t budge or continues to climb, you may be dealing with hypothyroidism. No matter what you do, you simply can’t lose the weight. Or worse, you continue to gain weight. Those with hyperthyroidism may experience something different. They may begin to lose weight suddenly, even if their diet hasn’t changed, or they are eating more.
Mood swings, anxiety or depression
If you have been feeling a little blue, hypothyroidism could be a contributor. Low levels of thyroid hormones can cause lowered levels of serotonin, the “feel-good” hormone, which can lead to depression. Those with hyperthyroid tend to experience more anxiety and feelings of being “wired”.
Muscle and joint pain
Most people experience the type of muscle pain that occurs after working out or using the muscles in other strenuous activities. But if you are experiencing unexplained joint or muscle pain, stiffness, swelling, tingling, or numbness in the extremities, it could be a sign of hypothyroidism. When too little of the thyroid hormones is produced it can cause damage to the nerves, leading to mysterious pain throughout the body.
Have you lost your sex drive? It could be the result of a low functioning thyroid. This symptom can be distressing for your (not to mention your spouse or partner). And a diminished sex drive may occur slowly as the levels of thyroid hormone continue to decrease.
Dry cracking skin
Do you have dry, itchy skin throughout the year? This could be a sign of an underactive thyroid! The thyroid manages hormones that play an important part in keeping skin healthy. When those levels are low, the health of the skin will be compromised and can lead to dry, itchy, cracked skin.
Swelling in the neck/hoarseness
If you experience swelling in the lower neck, feel the sensation of a lump in the throat, or experience continuous hoarseness, it could be a sign of thyroid issues. These types of symptoms indicate that there is swelling of the thyroid, known as a goiter. This can be a sign of thyroid dysfunction but can also be caused by iodine deficiency.
If you have hair that is brittle and dry, or your hair is falling out, you may be experiencing hypothyroidism. Too little production of thyroid hormones can disrupt the growth of hair all over the body. When the thyroid is overactive, it can typically cause thinning hair on the head only.
Both an under and overactive thyroid can mess with the bowels. Thyroid dysfunction compromises digestion which in turn affects the bowels. Those with hypothyroidism often experience constipation, while those with hyperthyroidism experience an increase in frequent diarrhea.
Brain fog or difficulties focusing
When the thyroid is not functioning as it should, it is not uncommon for there to be some problems with cognitive functioning. Those who experience hypothyroidism often complain of having brain fog and being more forgetful. Those with hyperthyroidism frequently have difficulty with focus and concentration.
Menstrual cycle abnormalities
Female clients who are facing thyroid issues may experience a change in their period. Those with hypothyroid may experience longer, heavier periods with more cramps. Their periods may also be closer together. Women with hyperthyroid may experience short, light periods that are farther apart.
Cold hands and feet
It is common for those struggling with hypothyroidism to experience cold hands and feet. When thyroid hormones are low, metabolism becomes sluggish and the result is lower body temperatures. This can cause the hands and feet to be cold at times when they shouldn’t be, such as during the warm summer months. If you regularly experience cold hands and feet, look at thyroid function.
Most doctors treat hypothyroidism with synthetic hormone replacement. And they treat hyperthyroid conditions with anti-thyroid medications, radioactive iodine, or even surgery. But what has caused the thyroid dysfunction in the first place? And are there things that can be done other than what conventional medicine provides?
The answer is yes! Instead of taking an allopathic look at thyroid dysfunction, it is important to look at thyroid disorders functionally. It is important to know which questions to ask that can help uncover why the dysfunction exists in the first place. Functional lab testing and working with someone who understands how to interpret those tests can tell you a lot about how the thyroid is functioning and can also give clues about overall health as well. An FDNThrive Coach has those tools.
Contact us to Are We A Matchspeak with an FDN Practitioner about how we can help you.