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thyroid symptoms and treatment

What you need to know about your thyroid…part two

Thyroid problems come up all too often in my naturopathic practice. I believe they are becoming more common and are often underdiagnosed or not diagnosed until actual damage to the thyroid gland has occurred.

In part one of this two-part series of blogs, I talked about the role of the thyroid and some of the factors that can contribute to thyroid disease.

Thyroid disease can result in an under or overactive thyroid. Many symptoms are, not surprisingly, opposite, but a symptom like fatigue may be common to both.

Signs and symptoms of underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)

Some of the more common symptoms include:

  • fatigue and loss of strength
  • weight gain
  • constipation
  • depression
  • hair loss
  • poor memory and cognition (brain fog)
  • loss of libido
  • low body temperature (less than 36.5degC)
  • unexplained high cholesterol

Signs and symptoms of overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)

Some of the more common symptoms include:

  • fatigue and loss of strength
  • anxiety or nervousness
  • heart palpitations
  • increased heart rate
  • diarrhoea
  • insomnia
  • poor concentration
  • weight loss

Not everyone who experiences any of these symptoms has hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Before rushing into any kind of treatment, it is important to carry out a thorough investigation to ensure the cause of your symptoms has been identified.

The key things you need to know about thyroid health

Thyroid problems can affect both men and women although they are more common in women and occurrence seems to increase with age.

Autoimmune thyroid disorders like Hashimoto’s disease or Graves’ disease have a dysfunctional immune system at their base. Addressing the reasons for this autoimmunity and dampening the autoimmunity using nutritional and herbal treatments may be very helpful in improving your quality of life.

The world of thyroid health can be very complex and confusing and a bit daunting but that’s where a holistic practitioner like me can help.

The typical drugs prescribed in thyroid conditions do not address any underlying causes.

Getting on top of your thyroid issues

Taking a proactive approach to your health is hugely beneficial.

  • Your symptoms are real, even if your tests say everything is “normal”. It is possible to dig deeper to work out what is causing your symptoms. Typically, the testing done by your GP in the first instance is limited to thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). If this is within the normal range, nothing further may be checked.  I will generally want to see the thyroid hormones T4 and T3 as well as thyroid antibodies and possibly key thyroid nutrient levels as well. There is so much more to understand about thyroid health beyond TSH.
  • Even if your full thyroid panel of numbers looks ok, there could be other reasons why you still have symptoms. These include inflammation, infection and stress which all have the potential to impact the action of your hormones. Addressing these issues allows your hormones to do their job.
  • There is a great deal that can be done to improve your symptoms by addressing your nutrition, digestion, immune function, heavy metal or chemical toxicity, stress levels and other contributing health issues.
  • Even if you are already on medication that is helping your symptoms, it’s wise to address any underlying causes. For example, a nutritional deficiency that is affecting thyroid function is probably affecting other aspects of your health too and thyroid medication may not address that.
  • Nutritional and herbal medicine has a lot to offer in addressing the underlying causes of your health problems in addition to providing symptomatic relief.
If you aren't happy with your health, and you think it could be due to your thyroid, make a naturopathic appointment or call to find out more on 03 9620 9503.
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