Fatigue is a common symptom of hypothyroidism, otherwise known as an underactive thyroid. In individuals with this condition, the body’s metabolism begins to slow down, leading to symptoms like low energy and lethargy. This differs from hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, in which the body’s metabolism speeds up.
Despite undergoing routine testing, it is common for thyroid problems to go undiagnosed. Even individuals who have symptoms of a thyroid disorder, such as weight gain, fatigue, hair loss, low mood, swelling, joint pain, water retention, memory loss, irregular periods, and others, may still have their condition overlooked.
Thyroid function tests are most commonly performed to measure thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). However, due to the wide reference range considered to be “normal” results, it is possible to have TSH levels within the reference ranges and still have hypothyroid symptoms.
Causes of an Underactive Thyroid
Hypothyroidism is the underproduction of thyroid hormones. The body requires a certain amount of thyroid hormone for energy production. When there is a drop in these hormones, it can lead to low energy levels, making you feel tired and weak.
An underactive thyroid can have many causes, such as:
- Removal of the thyroid gland. In some instances, the removal of the thyroid gland may be recommended as a treatment for hyperthyroidism.
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. With this autoimmune disorder, the body creates antibodies that attack the thyroid gland and reduce its production of thyroid hormone.
- Exposure to excessive iodine. Too much iodine can cause a thyroidits and lead to hypothyroidism. In some cases, radioactive iodine treatment used in hyperthyroidism may cause hypothyroidism.
Thyroid Symptoms with Normal TSH
Research published by the Association of the Advancement of Restorative Medicine is demonstrating that thyroid hormone transport across cellular membranes plays a key role in intracellular triiodothyronine (T3) levels of pituitary and peripheral tissues. There are many conditions that can result in reduced T4 and T3 transport into cells in peripheral tissues, such as diabetes, insulin resistance, bipolar disorder, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, fibromyalgia, anxiety, stress, and natural aging.
The pituitary is unique in it has different transporters than other tissues in the body. These transporters are highly energy-dependent and can be impacted by numerous elements, such as toxins, low energy states, and mitochondrial dysfunction. The pituitary remains unaffected and continues to maintain T3 levels while other areas of the body suffer from reduced T3 levels. In these patients, there may not be an elevation of THS despite having widespread tissue hypothyroidism.
Managing Your Hypothyroidism
If TSH levels remain normal despite symptoms of hypothyroidism, how is thyroid health determined? First, we look at symptoms to identify a clear pattern of hypothyroidism symptoms over time. Next, a comprehensive thyroid evaluation by blood is performed to confirm, such as TSH, SHBG, Free T3, Free T4, and reverse T3, as well as two types of anti-thyroid antibodies.
Treatment for hypothyroidism is usually a combination of herbs, minerals, diet, correction of iron levels, prescription thyroid hormones, hormone balancing, and stress management. Contact Vitalia Health Care today to learn more or to schedule a consultation with a naturopathic doctor.
Dr Tasreen Alibhai, ND