A dysfunctional thyroid can affect almost every aspect of your health. Imbalances of the thyroid are connected to many hormone issues. These can include breast cancer, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, infertility, postpartum depression, miscarriage, PMS, amenorrhea (no cycles) and menorrhagia (heavy cycles). Hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid is often linked with adrenal fatigue, estrogen dominance and progesterone deficiency. Most people are unaware that cardiac disease, lupus, reproductive difficulties, diabetes, arthritis as well as many other health issues are associated with a poor functioning thyroid gland. Research has shown that early thyroid assessment can, in many cases, reduce the incidence or severity of these high-profile diseases. Thyroid dysfunction is one of the most under-diagnosed hormonal imbalances of aging, together with estrogen dominance and metabolic syndrome.
In Canada there is a staggering number of people affected. Recent studies indicate that 1 in 10 Canadians suffer from a thyroid condition of one type or another! Of those, as many as 50% are undiagnosed with this frequently overlooked disease of epidemic proportions. Women are five times more likely to be diagnosed with hypothyroidism than men.
Ask yourself if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Weight gain or increased difficulty losing weight
- Coarse, dry hair
- Dry, rough pale skin
- Hair loss
- Loss of the outer third of eyebrow hair
- Cold intolerance (you can't tolerate cold temperatures like those around you)
- Muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
- Memory loss, brain fog
- Abnormal menstrual cycles
- Decreased libido
The symptoms will vary from person to person depending upon severity of the thyroid hormone deficiency and the length of time the body has been deprived of the proper amount of hormone. Many people will have a combination of these symptoms but on occasion some patients may not even realize they have an issue with their thyroid as the symptoms can be too subtle to notice.
Causes of Thyroid Imbalance:
- Adrenal imbalances due to prolonged stress
- Autoimmune dysfunction
- Estrogen dominance/Progesterone deficiency
- Hormonal fluctuations such as pregnancy, childbirth and menopause
- Liver toxicity
- Food allergies (Especially Celiac or Gluten allergy)
- Candida overgrowth
- Vitamin D deficiency-35% of women are deficient
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Heavy metal toxicity (lead, cadmium and mercury interfere with the conversion of T4 into T3 in the liver)
Testing for Thyroid Health
In Canada, testing is limited and this is where many of the issues surrounding a proper diagnosis begin. A full assessment of thyroid function is needed to determine the complete picture. Testing should include TSH, free T4, free T3 and Thyroid Antibodies. Unfortunately, TSH is usually the only marker to be tested and the rest get missed. In addition, the “normal” range for TSH in Canada is almost double in comparison to our neighbors in the United States. For these reasons, many Canadians are needlessly struggling with chronic health issues. Thyroid Antibody testing can often reveal autoimmune issues with the thyroid in its infancy stages before complete destruction of the thyroid occurs. Early intervention can change the course or in some cases turn off the autoimmune fire that destroys the thyroid. I see this regularly in my practice with my patients who undergo the proper complete thyroid testing.
Visit here for the full Thyroid Questionnaire.