It is estimated that 20 million Americans have some sort of thyroid condition, and 60% of them are unaware of their thyroid issue.  4.6% of Americans have hypothyroidism. Are you one of them?

While symptoms can be vague and differ from person to person, some common symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, constipation, dry skin, depression, hair loss, joint and/or muscle pain, and cold intolerance.

What exactly is hypothyroidism? Hypothyroidism is a deficiency in thyroid hormone production. There can be many causes, most commonly being inflammation of the thyroid (thyroiditis), autoimmune (Hashimoto’s), and some medications (ie: Lithium).

In my practice, patients come to me often suffering with many of these symptoms, but are told their thyroid is fine. While there are several thyroid hormones, most doctors are trained to test only thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH is secreted by the pituitary gland to stimulate the thyroid to produce thyroid hormone, T4, which then most of which circulates to tissues before being converted to T3, the metabolically active thyroid hormone. All these hormones must be tested for proper thyroid assessment.

Furthermore, most thyroid hormones are protein bound for circulation and not available for use, making the free T3 also essential for proper thyroid assessment. Fundamentally, it is the low active hormone that ultimately results in hypothyroidism symptoms.

Additionally, autoimmune thyroiditis, commonly known as Hashimoto’s, is becoming increasingly more common. Autoimmune diseases occur, when the body produces antibodies which attack the body confusing it for a foreign body. In this case, the antibodies produced are often Thyroid Peroxidase antibodies. Those with Hashimoto’s may not be properly diagnosed because they may have normal TSH lab values, but still exhibit thyroid symptoms.

As you can see, proper thyroid testing is especially important, but often overlooked. Most patients with undiagnosed or undertreated thyroid disease, say it greatly affects their quality of life, since mood, bowel function, and metabolism can be greatly influenced by a dysfunctional thyroid

~Sef Tritt, N.D.