I haven’t exactly done statistics on this in my functional medicine practice, but I suspect that fatigue is probably one of the most common complaints of our new patients. Sometimes their fatigue is so extreme that it is affecting work and family life. The fatigue is often both physical and mental. As a functional medicine “detective”, I want to know why.
The answer I frequently get is the thyroid isn’t functioning well. Many patients come with a diagnosis of hypothyroidism and are already on thyroid replacement, but they still don’t feel well. What’s going on here?
What is hypothyroidism?
The thyroid gland is that tissue that lies across the bottom of your neck and produces a hormone called thyroxine. Thyroxine plays a crucial role in heart and digestive function, metabolism, brain development, bone health and muscle control. It has an effect in almost all of the biological systems in the body. That means it is a pretty important hormone.
Signs and Symptoms of Thyroid Disease
- Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)
- Dry, itchy skin
- Loss of hair
- Fatigue; need for more sleep to function
- Menstrual irregularities
- Changes in libido for men and women
- Brain fog
- Weight gain
- Cold hands and feet
- Low body temperature
- Edema, especially facial swelling (myxedema)
- Loss of lateral aspect of eyebrows
- Delayed mental development in infants and young children
If there is any evidence for thyroid dysfunction, a complete thyroid panel is indicated that includes:
- TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone)
- Total T4
- Total T3
- Reverse T3
- Thyroglobulin antibody (TG)
- Thyroid Peroxidase antibody (TPO)
So many conventional medicine doctors only do a TSH and FreeT4 which gives a partial picture of your how well your thyroid gland is functioning.
One of the most common causes of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This is an autoimmune disease where antibodies (TG antibody and TPO) are elevated. Autoimmunity means the body has formed antibodies against its own tissues.
So Now What Do You Do?
Now that you discover that your thyroid gland is not functioning well, what do you do?
First, your best choice for in-depth help is to find a functional medicine doctor who will guide you through good nutritional choices, appropriate supplementation to support your thyroid gland, and also prescribe thyroid hormone replacement if that is indicated.
There is Hope!
Addressing hypothyroidism with diet, nutritional supplements and hormone replacement will begin to improve your energy and lessen your fatigue. No matter what your symptoms, I believe it is appropriate to check everyone’s thyroid function. I have very often found hypothyroidism as the cause of my patients’ fatigue.
Call Dr. Bedinghaus at 303-986-0492 for a complimentary phone call. We want to help you get your life back on track to fulfill your life in all ways.