Your thyroid is a small gland located in the lower part of your neck. It produces hormones that play a major role in your metabolism and energy. The primary thyroid hormones are triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4) and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).
Thyroid imbalances occur when your thyroid produces too few or too many of these hormones. An overactive thyroid, known as hyperthyroidism, occurs when the thyroid glands produce too many hormones. This can result in symptoms ranging from heart palpitations and anxiety to weight loss, heat intolerance, and muscle weakness.
Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, is by far more common. In fact, some estimate that as many as 1 in 7 adults suffers from hypothyroidism.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism & Endocrine Disorders
When the thyroid gland is underactive, your metabolism slows down and you suffer from symptoms such as:
- Unexplained weight gain
- Dry skin and hair
- Hair Loss
- Puffiness or swelling in the face
- Muscle aches and weakness
- Heavy menstrual periods
- Brittle hair and nails
- Cold intolerance
Many women have the symptoms of low thyroid hormones but are told that their lab tests are “normal” and that there is not a problem. That’s because conventional medicine often only looks at TSH and may not be using the most current cut-off levels even for that. In 2002, the Society of Endocrinologists announced that the standard testing ranges for TSH were inaccurate and that many people with hypothyroidism were undiagnosed. To this day, many thyroid lab tests have not been corrected to test for the accurate range of thyroid hormone levels.
Most doctors, physicians, and endocrinologists in the measure free T3 and free T4 levels as well as TSH. They also check for thyroid antibodies, which can help determine the presence of an autoimmune thyroid disorder. If such a disorder is diagnosed quickly, treatment may be able to prevent permanent damage to your thyroid gland.
Thyroid Hormone Replacement Therapy
Doctors take a more thorough approach to treating thyroid disorders. They don’t just look for “adequate” or “normal” ranges but aim to keep your thyroid hormone levels in an optimal range, so you can feel your best. And they use the most effective combination of thyroid hormones.
In traditional medicine, hypothyroidism is generally treated with synthetic T4, which can correct your T4 and TSH levels. However, many people cannot efficiently convert T4 to T3. This is a problem because T3 is the more active form of thyroid hormone. Even if your T4 and TSH levels are optimal, if your T3 levels are imbalanced, you may still experience symptoms.
Once your doctor assesses your current levels of all your thyroid hormones, he or she can then customize an individually-tailored thyroid replacement therapy regimen designed specifically for you.