Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the body lacks sufficient thyroid hormone. Since the main purpose of thyroid hormone is to manage metabolism, it is understandable that people with this condition will have symptoms associated with a slow metabolism. Over five million Americans have this common medical condition. In fact, as many as ten percent of women may have some degree of thyroid hormone deficiency.
Hypothyroidism is more common than you would believe...and, millions of people are currently hypothyroid and don't know it!
There are two fairly common causes of hypothyroidism. The first is a result of previous (or currently ongoing) inflammation of the thyroid gland which leaves a large percentage of the cells of the thyroid damaged (or dead) and incapable of producing sufficient hormone. The most common cause of thyroid gland failure is called autoimmune thyroiditis (also called Hashimoto's thyroiditis), a form of thyroid inflammation caused by the patient's own immune system. The second major cause is the broad category of "medical treatments"
The medical definition of subclinical hypothyroidism is a hypothyroid condition—often asymptomatic—in which free thyroxine (T4) is normal and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level is between 5 and 25 mU/L, or, if a thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) test is conducted, there's a greater than normal elevation in TSH response. Symptoms described in patients with subclinical hypothyroidism include greater than average incidence of problems with muscles and nerves, such as weakness, muscle fatigue, and tingling extremities. And the level of 5 as a bottom "cutoff" is actually also being questioned.
In January of 2001, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) released a statement that said: "Even though a TSH level between 3.0 and 5.0 uU/ml is in the normal range, it should be considered suspect since it may signal a case of evolving thyroid underactivity."
And some practitioners actually believe that levels above 2 are evidence of developing hypothyroidism. In particular, there are practitioners who believe that a normal TSH level, with the presence of elevated thyroid antibodies, may trigger hypothyroidism symptoms, and may warrant treatment.
How Common is Subclinical Hypothyroidism?
Using the TSH of 5 as a bottom cutoff, it's estimated that on average, approximtely 8 percent of women, and 4 percent of men are subclinically hypothyroid. The prevalence is much higher with age, and 15 percent of women and 8 percent of men over the age of 60 are subclinically hypothyroid.
Given the AACE's belief that TSH over 3 may be suspect, the number of people who may be subclinically hypothyroid is likely to be far greater than currently thought.
The risks of untreated subclinical hypothyroidism include:
- Increased risk of heart attack and atherosclerosis
- Increased risk of elevated cholesterol and high triglycerides
- Increased risk of depression, anxiety, and panic attacks
- Increased risk of miscarriage.
- Increased risk of developmental delays in infants born to mothers who were subclinically hypothyroid during pregnancy
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
- Weight gain or increased difficulty losing weight
- Coarse, dry hair
- Dry, rough pale skin
- Hair loss
- Cold intolerance (can't tolerate the cold like those around you)
- Muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
- Memory loss
- Abnormal menstrual cycles
- Decreased libido
Each individual patient will have any number of these symptoms which will vary with the severity of the thyroid hormone deficiency and the length of time the body has been deprived of the proper amount of hormone. Some patients will have one of these symptoms as their main complaint, while another will not have that problem at all, and will be suffering from a different symptom. Most will have a combination of several of these symptoms. Occasionally, some patients with hypothyroidism have no symptoms at all, or they are just so subtle that they go unnoticed.
If you have already been diagnosed and treated for hypothyroidism and you continue to have any or all of these symptoms, you need to discuss it with your doctor. Although treatment of hypothyroidism can be quite easy in some individuals, others will have a difficult time finding the right type and amount of replacement thyroid hormone thats why its important for you to have a doctor who is willing to work closely with you.
Potential Dangers of Hypothyroidism
Because the body is expecting a certain amount of thyroid hormone the pituitary will make additional thyroid-stimulating-hormone (TSH) in an attempt to entice the thyroid to produce more hormone. This constant bombardment with high levels of TSH may cause the thyroid gland to become enlarged and form a goiter (termed a "compensatory goiter"). Left untreated, the symptoms of hypothyroidism will usually progress. Rarely, complications can result in severe life-threatening depression, heart failure or coma.
Hypothyroidism can often be diagnosed with a simple blood test. In some persons, however, its not so simple and more detailed tests are needed.
Hypothyroidism is completely treatable in many patients simply by taking a small pill once a day! Once again, however, this is a simplified statement and its not always so easy. There are several types of thyroid hormone preparations and one type of medicine will not be the best therapy for all patients. Many factors will go into the treatment of hypothyroidism and it is different for everybody.
Dr. Bronner takes a holistic approach to treating hypothyroidism to ensure that all factors that may be causing the condition have been identified. Some related factors that may contribute to hypothyroidism are environmental toxins, heavy metals like mercury, high stress and adrenal fatigue as well as certain nutrient deficiencies. He will tailor your treatment to your unique needs.
Why Patients Choose Us
There are many reasons that patients come to see Dr. Bronner. While many sufferers of hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s go for years with little to no relief, despite being treated withmedication, and having normal test results it doesn’t have to be that way! Mush of the time patients report feeling better in as little as one week.
- Managing thyroid disorders takes more than just taking medications.
- We focus on the immune system, the most common mechanism for thyroid disorders in the United States. In the United States 90 percent of hypothyroid cases are due to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis whereby and antibody is created to the TPO and or Thyrobinding globulin. It is an autoimmune disease that attacks and over time destroys the thyroid gland which means thyroid hormone has to be replaced.
- We take an entire body approach: Many factors come into play when thyroid dysfunction occurs. We have to evaluate hormone, immune imbalance, adrenal and blood sugar imbalance, and digestive health.
- We use advanced lab testing to guide and direct our treatment. We look at many factors to properly asses your thyroid status and metabolism. This means that your treatment protocol is based off your imbalances, not just what the ‘typical’ thyroid patient has. Thyroid resistance syndrome, whereby you create reverse T3, is a lot like insulin resistance. Your cells are not receiving the active thyroid hormone called FT3 or triiodothyronine.
- Hashimoto’s can lead to other autoimmune diseases If untreated Hashimoto’s can eventually lead to other autoimmune diseases such as: neurological disordersrheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Type I diabetes or other autoimmune diseases.