What is Hypothyroidism? 14 Signs To Check

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Dr. Khoshaba

January 25, 2022

Hypothyroidism is a condition that indicates your thyroid is underactive, meaning it is not producing a sufficient amount of thyroid hormone. We will break down what is hypothyroidism is and give you some examples of what to look for.

What symptoms are associated with hypothyroidism?

Some symptoms that may indicate an underactive thyroid include:

  1. unintentional weight gain
  2. constipation
  3. dry skin
  4. hair loss
  5. fatigue
  6. brain fog
  7. puffiness
  8. joint pain
  9. irregular menstrual periods
  10. slowed heart rate
  11. depression
  12. muscle weakness
  13. hoarseness
  14. and increased sensitivity to cold. 

How common is hypothyroidism?

About 5% of the general population above 12 years old has hypothyroidism. Despite this percentage, millions of Americans have hypothyroidism and have not yet been diagnosed. 

How do you test for hypothyroidism?

Blood tests are often used to diagnose hypothyroidism. Your healthcare provider will likely assess your thyroid by checking TSH, also known as Thyroid Stimulating Hormone.

Man's arm getting blood drawn in a doctor's office. Checking for hyperthyroidism

TSH is a hormone released by your pituitary gland that signals your thyroid to make and release hormones into your bloodstream. When your bloodstream has an insufficient amount of thyroid hormone, also known as hypothyroidism, your thyroid will signal to your pituitary gland.

This signal will cause your TSH levels to increase the signals to your thyroid to make more thyroid hormones (T4 and T3). So therefore, your healthcare provider will most likely assess your TSH to assess your thyroid function but may also evaluate your thyroid hormones, including free T4 and free T3.

TSH levels range between 0.45 and 4.5 mu/L in a normal functioning thyroid. However, every healthcare provider has a different value that they believe is optimal.

At Natural Endocrinology Specialists™, we like to see a TSH value between 1-2 mu/L. A TSH value above 4.5 often indicates low free thyroid hormone, indicating hypothyroidism.

While healthcare providers will also look at your free thyroid hormones, TSH is still clinically the best indicator to assess for hypothyroidism. 

Is hypothyroidism familial?

Yes, often, hypothyroidism runs in families. If you have a family history of thyroid disease, you should let your healthcare provider know so you can get tested.

What is Hashimotos?

Hashimotos Thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid gland. Hashimoto's disease most often causes hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid. 

What causes Hashimotos?

The exact etiology of Hashimotos is unknown. However, it is believed that there are several contributing factors. Some of these factors may include your genetics.

A family history of thyroid disease could contribute to Hashimoto's or hypothyroidism in many cases. Other contributing factors include hormones, excessive iodine, and radiation exposure. 

Does Hashimotos affect males and females equally?

Hashimotos is known to affect women 7x as likely as it does males. It's not uncommon for women to be diagnosed with a thyroid condition during the first year after having, with 20% of these women developing Hashimoto's years later. 

Do the symptoms between hypothyroidism and Hashimotos differ?

Frequently, the symptoms of hypothyroidism are similar to Hashimotos. However, some patients with Hashimoto's may develop an enlarged thyroid, also known as a goiter.

The goiter may look like a significant swelling at the front of your neck and may cause other symptoms like hoarseness and difficulty swallowing.

How do you test for Hashimotos? 

To test for Hashimotos, your healthcare provider will often run a thyroid panel to assess if your thyroid is under or overactive.

Your healthcare provider will also run other blood tests, specifically thyroglobulin antibodies, to assess general autoimmune thyroid disease and Thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO), which tests specifically for Hashimotos Disease.

If your healthcare provider suspects thyroid disease, they should also send you a thyroid ultrasound to assess for vascularity of any thyroid nodules.

How are hypothyroidism and Hashimotos treated?

Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's are often treated with thyroid replacement medication. There are several different types of medication, so it is always best to work with your healthcare provider to assess what type of medication is best for you.

You mentioned iodine... how much iodine should I be having per day?

The recommended daily allowance for iodine intake is 150 mcg in adults and slightly more in pregnant and breastfeeding women. Research shows that too much iodine intake may contribute to hypothyroidism.

Where can I be getting excess iodine from?

Fish, seafood, and seaweed contain high levels of iodine. Other dietary sources of iodine include eggs, dairy products, and iodized salt. Other sources of iodine could be found in your daily multivitamins and may even be found in some of your favorite skincare products.

Cooked fish plate with vegetables. Food that is high in iodine

Is it possible to completely heal hypothyroidism or Hashimotos?

Yes. While medication is often necessary to initially treat these conditions, with the right dietary, lifestyle, and additional modification, if is possible to heal yourself of your thyroid condition.

Can Integrative Healthcare help heal my hypothyroidism?

Yes, integrative healthcare is a great way to approach and help with your hypothyroidism.

Take the first step towards getting your thyroid back on track:

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Dr. Linda Khoshaba is the Leading Integrative Health and Hormone Doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona. She has extensive experience working in the field as a Hormone Specialist and Natural Endocrinologist.

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