FATIGUE & STRESSHypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is a common but underdiagnosed disorder, affecting more than 20 million Americans. Women are five to eight times more likely than men to develop thyroid problems, according to the American Thyroid Association. As a result, much of the literature published about hypothyroidism focuses on the diagnosis and treatments for women. Doctors regularly overlook underactive thyroid symptoms in men, suggesting that symptoms are a natural part of getting older. When doctors ignore the symptoms, it can be difficult for men to discuss changes that are affecting their energy levels, sexuality, and brain function.
What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland fails to release adequate amounts of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T3) and tri-iodothyronine (T4) into the body. It also occurs when the thyroid gland is producing enough hormones, but they are not able to be used efficiently by the cells of the body. Or, it can also occur when the body makes antibodies against them.
These hormones increase the body’s metabolic rate, which determines how quickly the body’s cells use stored energy. T3 and T4 also help regulate the body’s internal temperature. TSH is another hormone associated with thyroid function, but it is produced and released by the pituitary gland. When released into the bloodstream, TSH tells the thyroid to produce more T3 and T4. Low levels of T3 and T4 produce high TSH levels, which often becomes clear when doctors order a thyroid-stimulating hormone test.
Unfortunately, this is not the whole picture. Men are commonly underdiagnosed with hypothyroidism because the “normal range” of TSH levels is so wide, and symptoms are often not taken into consideration.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism can be mild to severe, depending on a number of factors. Here’s what to look for:
+ Fatigue or loss of energy
+ Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
+ Fluid retention
+ Sensitivity to the cold, cold intolerance, and cold extremities
+ Enlarged tongue
+ Short-term memory loss
+ Difficulty concentrating and decreased mental sharpness
+ Muscle and joint pain
+ Chronic infection
+ Hair loss
+ High cholesterol and elevated triglycerides
+ Chronic headaches
+ Dry skin
+ Hair loss
Hypothyroidism treatment begins with an accurate diagnosis. Your doctor should not rule out hypothyroidism based on the results of a TSH blood test. He or she should also take your symptoms into consideration. While this test is important, it is only part of the picture. In addition to TSH, blood tests should measure free T4 and T3. This will determine whether thyroid antibodies are present. Your doctor should also test your total cholesterol and LDL levels.
These tests, combined with a thorough examination and an evaluation of symptoms, are the first steps of thyroid treatment. If your symptoms are being ignored because your TSH test results fall within the “normal range,” consider getting a second opinion.
Most thyroid treatments rely on hormone replacement medications. Hypothyroid medications like Synthroid, Levoxyl, and Levothroid use synthetic hormones and contain only the inactive T4 hormone. This works for some patients, but only if their bodies can easily convert the inactive T4 hormone to the active T3 hormone.
For the majority of patients, a natural remedy for hypothyroidism is preferable and easier for the body to use. Even If your TSH levels are within the normal range, a therapeutic trial can be administered to alleviate your symptoms.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of hypothyroidism, natural treatment will help you begin your journey to wellness and optimum health. Contact us today to learn more.