Feeling Constantly Fatigued and Foggy? Time to Get Your Thyroid Checked!
Did you know that thyroid conditions are some of the most misdiagnosed in the world? It’s estimated that upwards of 20 million Americans are suffering from thyroid disease, but 60 percent of them don’t know they have it — they assume symptoms like brain fog, fatigue, weight gain, mood issues, and more are simply byproducts of the hectic modern lives we all live. That’s a troubling statistic, isn’t it?
That means 12 million people (and that’s probably a conservative estimate) are walking around with a thyroid disorder that’s silently wreaking havoc on their health.
How can this be?
Our thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland at the base of our neck that produces hormones that control our body’s metabolic processes — so many functions in our bodies are dependent on these hormones, I can’t overstate their importance! When someone has a thyroid disorder, their body isn’t making the proper amount of thyroid hormone — they may be making too much and have an overactive thyroid, called hyperthyroidism, or too little and have an underactive thyroid, called hypothyroidism.
The unfortunate truth is that there’s a big disconnect in traditional medicine when it comes to testing for and diagnosing these diseases. Many doctors order only a basic thyroid panel, and deem someone free of a thyroid disorder if they fall within the predetermined “normal” parameters for those particular tests. This is problematic for a couple of reasons. As a functional medicine doctor, I believe those “normal” ranges don’t truly reflect a level at which someone is necessarily healthy and functioning optimally. The parameters for bloodwork in functional medicine are much tighter.
So, in my mind, many people who fall in the “normal” range on a traditional blood test are anything but healthy…and the fact that they feel awful at that level is rather telling!
Also, the mere existence of thyroid hormones in the blood doesn’t necessarily mean that the body’s cells are utilizing them properly. While these hormones may register on a blood test, someone will still be left suffering from debilitating thyroid-related symptoms if the hormone isn’t gaining access at a cellular level. The same applies to people who have been diagnosed with a thyroid issue and are taking synthetic thyroid hormones — the hormones are circulating in their blood, but oftentimes they don’t feel any resolution of their symptoms because those hormones are not infiltrating the cell.
In the same way that people can be insulin resistant, they can also be resistant to thyroid hormones if they have damaged, inflamed cells from toxins, poor diet and sleep, minimal exercise, and a host of other environmental offenders.
Lastly, many cases (at least 90% of cases, likely more) of thyroid disease are rooted in an autoimmune disorder — called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (when hypothyroidism is the issue) or Graves’ Disease (when hyperthyroidism is the problem) — which can be present long before the traditional thyroid tests would show anything amiss. When someone has this type of autoimmune disease, their immune system attacks the thyroid, killing thyroid cells. To look for autoimmune involvement, doctors need to run antibody blood tests called TPO (thyroid peroxidase) & TGA (thyroglobulin antibodies) to catch abnormalities.
What Are The Symptoms of a Thyroid Disorder?
While this is not a comprehensive list, these are some of the most common symptoms I see:
- Low energy / chronic fatigue
- Brain Fog
- Anxiety / depression
- Sleep issues
- Weight problems (inability to lose or propensity to gain)
- Hair Loss
Improve Your Thyroid Health With These Tips
Living a well balanced, healthy life is imperative for thyroid health. This includes:
- Reducing stress of all kinds (i.e. physical, chemical [toxins], and emotional).
- Eating a whole food, nutrient-dense diet that focuses on high quality protein and fats (like avocado, olive, and coconut oils) and a wide assortment of fruits and vegetables.
- Ensuring you’re getting restful sleep every night, between 7 and 9 hours.
- Moving your body through some form of exercise most days of the week.
- Repairing your cells with a true cellular detox, like the one I guide my students through in our Cellular Health Accelerator.
Want To Hear More?
Throughout January — as part of National Thyroid Awareness Month — I had the opportunity to spread the word on thyroid health via interviews and articles with news outlets across the country, and I wanted to share one of the most recent I did with Gayle Guyardo — host of Bloom TV on WFLA. Gayle herself suffers from hypothyroidism, and could relate to the scenario I laid out above — she went undiagnosed for years, assuming her symptoms were due to the stresses of motherhood and a demanding job.
If you have a few extra minutes, you can watch the full interview here!