Thyroid Issues Continued
Many people are finding that common problems of fatigue, depression and difficulty losing weight can be completely reversed by physicians that specialize in hormone optimization and age management medicine. Individuals often suffer for years being told that their thyroid, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone and adrenals are fine. Doctors are now finding that these levels are actually suboptimal and need to be supplemented, often with remarkable results. Standard blood tests only pick up the sickest 2.5% of the population.
Many of the common complaints that rarely get addressed by standard medicine can be remedied by hormone optimization. These include complaints such as; I can’t lose weight like I used to…I don’t get as much results from working out as I used to…What happened to that feeling of well-being…I feel depressed…My body aches… My skin is dry and rough…My joints hurt…I am aging faster than I would like…I sure get tired easily…I feel cold all the time…My libido is shot…My hair is thinning…I don’t feel right…My nails break so easily…I get sick easily…I get frequent headaches… My muscles are sore…I seem to retain water…I’m always constipated…I don’t feel like I used to…I have PMS…I have lost my motivation…I am being treated for depression but I’m still depressed… I’m not getting much relief from my treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia…I’m being treated for hypothyroidism, but I’m still tired.
Two of the biggest problems are low thyroid for women and low testosterone for men. So many women who are told over and over that their thyroid levels are fine actually have severely low thyroids levels that are not picked up by the standard TSH and T4 testing, which is the only testing done about 90% of the time. TSH is secreted by the pituitary in the brain, telling the thyroid to secrete T4, which is not the active thyroid hormone. T4 must then be converted in the body to the active thyroid hormone T3. When T4 and T3 levels drop, the TSH should increase, indicating hypothyroidism. This is the standard way to diagnose hypothyroidism. There are, however, many things that result in hypothyroidism but are not diagnosed using the standard TSH and T4 testing. This method only reveals a few of the very sickest patients, leaving the majority of patients undiagnosed. Many people, especially women, do not adequately convert T4 to the active T3, resulting in low levels of active thyroid hormone and symptoms of low thyroid with a normal TSH. There is another problem in that T4 cannot only be converted to T3 but it can also be converted to reverse T3, which is inactive and blocks the thyroid receptor. Very few practicing physicians, including endocrinologist, are aware of this because it was not taught in medical school, yet contributes to low tissue levels of thyroid in a significant percentage of patients with symptoms. Again, this is missed by standard testing. This is due to an evolutionary enzyme that increases the T4 to reverse T3 conversion in times of stress. This worked well for our ancestors because it improved survival in times of famine and stress by decreasing the metabolic rate (metabolism). However, in our modern society, reverse T3 works against us causing fatigue, difficulty losing weight and all the other symptoms of hypothyroidism. Reverse T3 can also be increased with dieting (often responsible for the quick weight gain after losing weight) as well as with physical and emotional stress. Hypothyroidism not only results in undesirable symptoms, but it also increases the risk of heart disease and cancer. Consequently, bringing the thyroid to optimal levels not only makes a person feel better, but is also results in significant health benefits. So many people have been going from doctor to doctor thinking their thyroid is low only to be told it is fine over and over. When more extensive testing is done many individuals are relieved to be shown that their thyroid is truly low or sub-optimal and that they can expect to be feeling better soon.
A recent study in the medical journal Archives of Internal Medicine found that women with low normal thyroid (sub-clinical hypothyroidism) are 70% more likely to have arthrosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and over twice as likely (200% increase) to suffer a heart attack. This low normal thyroid that is going untreated is not only resulting in millions of women unnecessarily feeling fatigued, depressed and being unable to lose weight, along with all the other symptoms of low thyroid, but it is also resulting in heart attacks and deaths that could easily be prevented.