In Austin, Thyroid dysfunction can be diagnosed and treated, but patients MUST have the correct information and be proactive. The thyroid gland is vitally important to your life and wellness. It is your internal timepiece. The thyroid hormones are called Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3) levels, and they are responsible for increasing basal metabolic rate, improving protein creation, regulating bone growth, and maintaining optimal cognition.
What is thyroid dysfunction?
Thyroid hormones tell your heart to beat, lungs to breathe, brain to function, nails and hair to grow, skin to build, and all other systems to function. Needless to say, the thyroid hormone is of paramount importance. When the thyroid gland is underproducing thyroid hormone or your body’s tissues are not converting T4 to T3, symptoms may begin appearing.
Many conventional physicians only evaluate the TSH and aim to keep it below 5. We check the entire thyroid function panel for signs of Thyroid Dysfunction as each thyroid number can tell you details about your current health. The full thyroid panel includes TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, and Hashimoto’s Antibodies (Anti-Thyroid Peroxidase and Anti-Thyroglobulin). Moreover, we use narrow windows for the thyroid instead of comparing you to 99% of the population. Instead, we compare your levels to a healthy, ideal population.
What are the symptoms of low thyroid or hypothyroidism?
When there are insufficient levels of thyroid hormones in the blood, the body becomes sluggish and patients typically feel:
- Increased Sensitivity to Cold
- Thin, Brittle Nails
- Joint or Muscle Aches
- Worsened Cholesterol Levels
- Heavy or Irregular Periods
- Weight Gain
What are the symptoms of high thyroid or hyperthyroidism?
High thyroid is relatively uncommon. This is usually caused by an Auto-Immune condition called Grave’s Disease, which is very unique. Grave’s Disease is an Auto-Immune condition where the body creates antibodies towards the receptors of the thyroid gland. Instead of destroying the thyroid tissue, it activates it and causes it to overproduce thyroid hormones.
If the thyroid gland is producing more thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) than needed, the body goes into overdrive, causing:
- Fast Heart Rate
- Dry Skin
- Racing Thoughts
- Hand Tremor
- Nervousness / Anxiety
- Increased Sensitivity to Heat
- Bulging Eyes
How do I get evaluated for Thyroid Dysfunction?
Thyroid problems (Thyroid Dysfunction) are easily detected with a blood test that will involve Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), Free Thyroxine (T4), Free Triiodothyronine (T3) levels, Reverse T3, Hashimoto antibodies. TSH can confuse many patients as its levels are opposite of the condition; high TSH means low thyroid. If the TSH level begins to rise, this means that the brain is sensing low thyroid levels, and it is trying to stimulate the thyroid gland to produce more thyroid hormone.
How can I increase my conversion of T4 to T3?
The level of thyroid hormone (T4 and T3) released by the thyroid gland is regulated by the brain (TSH). If your TSH and T4 are normal, yet your T3 is low, then you are in a suboptimal hypothyroid state. In order to create more T3, selenium levels must be increased in the system as the enzyme requires selenium to function. Selenium can be found in supplements, brazil nuts, mushrooms, fish, and eggs. In order to further raise T3, you will need to optimize your nutrition and increase your physical exertion and intensity.
What is Reverse T3 (rT3)?
The thyroid creates 90% Thyroxine (T4), 9% Triiodothyronine (T3), and 0.9% Reverse Triiodothyronine (rT3). The tissues of the body are responsible for converting T4 into T3. After T4 is created, it will be broken down to either T3 or Reverse T3, depending on which Iodine atom is removed. The majority of the time, T3 is created. T3 has a short, powerful half-life. In fact, T3 is 4 times more powerful than T4. Depending on stressors and other biochemical factors, Reverse T3 can be made if the wrong iodine is removed. Reverse T3 is inactive, and it can block T3 receptors. High levels of Reverse T3 can cause symptoms of low thyroid despite having normal thyroid levels. Factors that influence Reverse T3 (rT3) are bodily stress, immune activation, sedentary behavior, gut function, and brain health.
What is Hashimoto’s Disease?
Hashimoto’s disease is an auto-immune condition where the immune system is attacking the cells of the thyroid gland. They are causing slow, insidious death to the entire thyroid gland. In the process of destruction, levels of thyroid hormone are erratically released from the gland sometimes causing symptoms of both low and high thyroid. If you are frequently having your thyroid medication adjusted up and down every time you get your labs checked, then you may have an active autoimmune condition. Hashimoto’s Disease is the first autoimmune disease identified, and it was discovered by a Japanese medical scientist in 1912 (Hakaru Hashimoto). It is also called Chronic Lymphocytic Thyroiditis. Many conventional physicians do not test for Hashimoto antibodies as it does not alter their treatment. However, it can and should alter your treatment. After all, it is a well-known medical fact that if you have one autoimmune condition, you are highly likely to develop a second one – which may not be as mild!
How do I treat Hashimoto’s Disease?
Treating Hashimoto’s disease requires hard work and dedication. All systems of the body must be optimized: Nutrition, Movement, Hormones, Digestion, and Stress. You will need to be gluten and dairy free because these are the two most powerful immune activators to the gut. You should assess your adrenal gland function to ensure enough cortisol is circulating in the system. Cortisol is a down-regulator to the immune system; Hashimoto’s Disease says that your immune system is out of control. There are specific nutrition plans that are known to reverse autoimmune disease. They are typically referred to as Auto-Immune Protocol (AIP). Our nutrition team will help you determine the right food plan for you and your autoimmune disease.
How do I get treated for Thyroid Dysfunction (low thyroid or hypothyroidism)?
Replacing thyroid hormones can be quite complex. Patients often are amazed at how differently they feel when their thyroid hormone is replaced correctly and brought back to optimal levels. In order to replace thyroid hormones, it is important to review your Free T4 and Free T3 levels. You should aim to have a Free T4 level over 1.0 and a Free T3 level over 3.0. Depending on your levels and personal preferences, your physician will choose between Levothyroxine (Synthroid, Unithroid, Levoxyl), Liiothyronine (Cytomel), and Dessicated Thyroid (Nature-Throid, Armour, WP Thyroid). A functional medicine physician will use any combination needed to restore the thyroid to optimal levels.
If you have Hashimoto antibodies and low thyroid, it is important to begin an Auto-Immune Protocol to reverse the auto-immunity. If you do not, you will need increasing amounts of thyroid replacement until your thyroid gland is completely destroyed.
How do I get treated for high thyroid or hyperthyroidism?
Treating hyperthyroidism is more difficult. It is important to identify the root cause of elevated thyroid levels and rule out cancer. Most of the time, hyperthyroidism is caused by Grave’s Disease. If you are diagnosed with Grave’s Disease, your next step is to begin an Auto-Immune Protocol in order to reverse the Auto-Immune Disease. While going through the Auto-Immune Protocol, you will be placed on prescription medicine to slow down the thyroid and block some of its effects. You may begin therapy with either Methimazole or Propylthiouracil, which blocks the production of thyroid hormones (T4). You may also begin a blood pressure medicine such as propranolol. This medication blocks the effects of thyroid hormones. Hopefully, if you are aggressive with the Auto-Immune Protocol, you can avoid radioactive thyroid ablation and surgical removal of the thyroid gland.