Thyroid 101

Thyroid 101

Are you ready to get excited about Your Thyroid! I can’t stress enough how important it is to understand this beautiful gland. There is so much discrepancy between normal lab values and functional ones and because of this so many women get misdiagnosed and continue to feel like crap. Not to mention, not getting proper treatment could be the difference between getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy or not.

Your thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine organ that’s located just below the Adam’s apple in the throat. The function of this gland is to take in iodine and produce various thyroid hormones that affect just about every organ system in the human body.

Thyroid hormones are responsible for the regulation of your metabolism, temperature, hormone production, and the development of our nervous system. It detect minor shifts in body chemistry (such as blood sugar fluctuations, hormone imbalances, inflammation, nutritional deficiencies, detoxification, toxicity, and congestion) and respond accordingly to bring the body back into balance

When the body chemistry has swung too far from balance for too long the pituitary and thyroid glands can no longer compensate and thyroid disorders result.

Common Symptoms of Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid – High TSH)

Depression / Anxiety / Low Basal Body Temps (BBT) / Requires lots of sleep to function / Cold Hands-Feet-Whole body / Morning headaches / Infertility / Menstrual Irregularities / Fatigue / Brain Fog /  Weight gain / Inability to lose weight easily / Sensitive to cold weather / Constipation / Digestive problems / Poor Circulation / Itchy dry skin / Dry brittle hair / Thinning of the outer eyebrow / High cholesterol

Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid – Low TSH)

Weight Loss / Palpitations / Racing Pulse / Bulging Eyes / Tremors / Insomnia / Irritability / Nervousness / Anxiety /Menstrual Irregularities / Fatigue /Aversion to Heat / Night sweats / Increased Appetite / Hair Loss

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition that results in the destruction of the thyroid gland. This damage eventually leads to inadequate thyroid hormone production, or hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in North America and accounts for 90% of cases of hypothyroidism and accounts for up to 10% of the population. It’s the leading autoimmune disease And most of the time Doctor’s don’t test for it.

Most physician, OB’s and RE’s included, don’t often test for thyroid antibodies because they don’t see the point. In their opinion, if you have them there is nothing that can be done, they will just wait until your TSH is pushed out of range and start supplementing you with Thyroid medication, your dose of medication will increase until thyroid is destroyed completely. The traditional form of treatment is Thyroid Medication for the rest of your life.

Women are predominately affected by Hashimoto’s as with most autoimmune disorders, and believed that the hormonal fluctuations of puberty, pregnancy, and menopause can be contributing factors to its development. Which is why it’s so important to have them checked when trying to conceive as well as in the postpartum stage. Postpartum thyroiditis is also associated with antibody production and can resolve on its own however, in some cases this condition is followed by an official diagnosis of Hashimoto’s at a later time and/or be a cause for secondary infertility, or miscarriage with future pregnancies.

Symptoms of Hashimoto’s

People with Hashimoto’s may experience BOTH hypothyroid and hyperthyroid symptoms because when the antibodies are active and destroying the thyroid stored thyroid hormones are released to compensate often throwing someone into a hyperthyroid state and what is known as thyrotoxicosis or Hashitoxicosis. When these stores have depleted a hypo state will result. Therefore, your TSH can jump around fluctuating between hyper, normal, and hypo depending on what your antibodies are doing

What’s important to realize is that Thyroid Antibodies don’t just exist at the thyroid. There is a large concentration of receptor sites in the gut and in the ovaries, which is why properly treating and healing this reaction is a necessity to improving fertility and full-term pregnancy rates.

Understanding Your Lab Tests

TSH: The Thyroid Stimulating Hormone is released from the pituitary gland and stimulates the thyroid gland to make thyroid hormones, particularly T4. TSH is one of the most sensitive markers for thyroid function and it’s commonly the only one that is tested at your yearly physical.

◦ Functional Range for Fertility and Pregnancy 0.5-2.0 mU/L
◦ Typical Lab Range 0.3-3.0 mU/L
◦ Canadians our Lab Range for normal is 0.2-6.0 mU/L *Absolutely Crazy

Low Value = hyperthyroid, screen for antibodies, or too much medication. Sometimes a low level is sometimes acceptable in a patient who is pregnant or about to become pregnant (0.2, 0.3)
High Value = hypothyroidism, screen for Antibodies

Free T3 : Shows the available amount of T3 in the body, and is the main biologically active thyroid hormone.

◦ Functional Range: 300 -450 pg/mL
◦ Typical Lab Range: 260 -480 pg/mL

Low Value = indicates thyroid hypo function; if Free T4 is normal or high it suggests a conversion issue from T4 – T3 (discuss medication change)

Free T4: Active form of T4 that is converted by the body into the usable T3 hormone

◦ Functional range: 1.0 – 1.5 ng/dL
◦ Typical Lab range: 0.7 – 1.53 ng/dL

Low Value = Hypothyroid
High Value = Hyperthyroid or if Free T3 is low suggests a conversion issue from T4 – T3

Reverse T3: (optional test) indicates how much Free T3 is able to bind to thyroid receptors. Reverse T3 is produced in stressful situations and blocks these receptors.

◦ Functional Range – 90 – 350 pg/mL

Antibodies (TPO-ab and TG-ab): It is necessary to test both TPO-ab and TG-ab for possible antibodies, one can be positive for one or the other or both. If Graves disease is suspected the autoimmune disease concurrent with Hyperthyroidism TSI should be tested.

◦ Positive Test Results indicate a confirmed auto-immune disease.

So What Does All of This Mean?

The first step with regard to thyroid health, is finding out the truth. As you can see your doctor telling you that things are normal, may not actually be the case. There are ways to correct these conditions, but it requires you to advocate for yourself, and have a copy of your lab results in your hand so that you can review the information on your own and if required find a qualified physician and practitioner that’s willing to work with you to find solutions.

Thyroid and Autoimmune Thyroid diseases are treatable, and remission is possible. It may even be the answer to you getting pregnant and having a full term baby in your arms in the end.

This week, make an appointment with your doctor and get your thyroid tests done and get a copy, next week we will be discussing treatments to help heal you’re and my thyroid.

Want to know more about this topic right now! I would recommend checking out Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause by Izabella Wentz and Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? when My Lab Tests Are Normal: a Revolutionary Breakthrough in Understanding Hashimoto’s Disease and Hypothyroidism by Datis Kharrazian.

I would love to hear about your own thyroid, Hashimoto’s journey, tell me about it in the comments below.

XO
Ashley

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