Many of us these days just don’t feel “well” – and we think it’s just because we’re busy (or stressed, or out of shape).
But there’s a cluster of subtle symptoms that are actually really something physically wrong. They include:
- fatigue and lethargy
- poor memory
- aches and pains in joints and muscles
- hair loss
- fertility issues
- weight gain
- high cholesterol
Until a few years ago, patients with these symptoms just thought they were getting old. More recently, the impact of thyroid imbalance is being recognised.
“Could it be your thyroid?” is an increasingly common headline in many health posts these days. However, when many people get their GP to check their thyroid, they are told they’re “all clear” or “in range” because their levels are statistically normal. A TSH of 0.5 to 0.45 is often considered “in range”.
There’s a big difference between “in range” and “optimal”
According to Thyroid Australia, we should all aim to have a TSH closer to 1.0 for optimal thyroid function. 0.5 to 4.5 may be statistically normal – but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good for you.
For many people with this “in range” TSH result, the number is potentially indicating an under-active thyroid, producing symptoms such as the list above, and others from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome to Depression. (I’ve included a more complete list at the end of this article.)
So often I see patients whose blood tests have been given the ‘all clear’/’in range’ response by a GP – but their problems are still there. When we dig further, we find that there is a thyroid issue – and that some simple treatments can make a big difference.
The thyroid affects every cell in our body
“The thyroid gland sets our ‘idle’ level or our baseline energy level, and the adrenal gland acts as the accelerator for our energy level when demand is higher” Dr Banks, Endocrine Specialist, USA.
In the modern world there are all sorts of ways that our thyroid function can be impacted. Contributing factors can include:
- adrenal stress
- mineral deficiencies (especially selenium, iodine and zinc)
- low protein levels such as Tyrosine
- heavy metal and chemical exposure (from lead and copper to chlorine and fluoride)
- hormonal fluctuations (in females it is estimated that in over 60’s, 20% may have hypothyroidism)
- gut problems
- blood pH problems (too acidic impairing cellular uptake of minerals etc.)
Extra information can help identify underactive thyroid
Urinary Iodine tests can be arranged via your GP or Naturopath. Blood tests on your zinc and selenium level are also useful.
A Basal Body Temperature test (done at home) can also be useful to check your baseline core temperature which has a direct correlation to thyroid function.
Could it be my thyroid?
It could if you’re experiencing symptoms from the list below. If you are, then you don’t have to keep feeling like you’re running on empty – do some more digging.
Here’s the wide range of subtle symptoms that can indicate an underactive thyroid:
- Low basal body temperature
- fatigue & lethargy
- muscle weakness
- cold intolerance
- cold hands & feet
- cognitive deficits
- weight gain
- joint pain
- thin, brittle hair
- pale complexion
- slow speech
- dry, flaky skin
- poor memory
- thickening of the skin
- puffy face, eyes, hands & feet
- decreased taste & smell
- thinning of outer third of eyebrows
- hoarseness in voice
- menstrual disorders
- muscle aches & pains
- fertility problems
Of course the thyroid can be overactive or functioning well. Seek professional advice to help uncover underlying issues and interpret pathology testing. There are many ways to support this precious gland to work it’s magic in our body.