Thyroid Hormones

I am posting this because I have discovered this problem in myself and hope to help others who might be struggling with seemingly unrelated symptoms that could add up to something that you may want to get checked out. In the last few months I have steadily gained weight without changing anything in my diet, have been very fatigued at least a few times a week, am super-sensitive to cold temperatures, and lose more hair than normal. The fatigue part is what made me worried because it has appeared only recently; the hair loss and cold sensitivity I thought was just part of my genes or something and I have dealt with that for years. And the recent weight gain I linked to the fatigue, because whenever I didn’t feel well, I ate, thinking that hunger symptoms were showing themselves in other ways besides stomach growls. And when I felt tired, of course I couldn’t exercise but had to rest instead. So I have been consuming many more calories than I have been expending. No mystery there. But having the continued fatigue and weakness on a regular basis made me think I had a blood sugar problem at first so I went in for bloodwork.

Everything was normal except that my thyroid hormone was in the low range of normal. They recommended coming in two weeks after that for another blood test, so I did that, and my levels were slightly higher than the first test, but my symptoms were still there, so my doctor agreed to put me on the lowest dose of thyroid hormone medication, and I started that two days ago. I don’t know when that plans to kick in but I eagerly await it. I had to come home from work early yesterday because of very low energy and weakness, and I am still not feeling well enough to go to back to work today. This problem is definitely affecting my life! The medication insert says it may take up to two weeks to notice a difference. I hope it’s sooner than that.

I’ve done a bit of reading about thyroid. Some articles and books have said that thyroid problems are under-diagnosed in the U.S. The stigma with the thyroid is that everyone jokes about it as being something that fat people use as an excuse for their inability to lose weight. Even doctors don’t initially take a patient seriously when thyroid is mentioned, and many come to the visit with a sort of stereotype against overweight people, thinking that the patient wants drugs to fix their problem and that the patient is just too lazy to work hard at diet and exercise. But in some of the things I have read, some serious athletes and in-shape people who have done nothing different in their diet (or in fact worked even harder at counting calories and working out more) gained fat unexpectedly and continued to do so even through rigorous training, sometimes hours per day.

Thyroid conditions are developed mostly from autoimmune diseases. Funny, because I have one of those too (psoriasis). People who have a risk of getting thyroid disease are those who:

  • are past or present smokers
  • have family members who have thyroid problems
  • have (or a relative has) autoimmune disease like arthritis, psoriasis, MS, lupus, etc.
  • have had stomach infections caused by bacterium Yersinia enterocolitica
  • have allergies, gluten sensitivities, or celiac disease
  • have had radiation exposure or lived near a nuclear plant or have had certain medical treatments, have had many dental/neck xrays without a thyroid collar
  • live in area with low iodine in the soil or food supply or have cut down considerably on amount of iodized salt in diet, leaving you iodine deficient (probably me since I changed my diet last year)
  • are heavy consumers of soy products (yea, that’s me after going vegan!)
  • eat lots of raw goitrogenic foods (that’s also me after going vegan)
  • are over 60
  • female
  • are in menopause, pregnant, or other periods of hormonal variances
  • had trauma to the neck or whiplash

The treatments are medication or natural thyroid replacement (from pigs), but that comes with problems (other than being non-vegan) that you will want to research about. Supplements recommended include a good multivitamin with high levels of A, the B vitamins, and E. Also be sure to get sufficient vitamin C and D, probiotics, zinc, selenium, l-tyrosine, iron, EFAs. But don’t take the vitamins with the medication, most should be taken at least 4 hours before or after because they interfere with the medication’s absorption.

I suggest reading more about this topic from The Thyroid Diet Revolution by Mary J. Shomon. She gives you ideas on diet as well but I haven’t gotten into that part of the book yet, except to cut out all soy products and goitrogenic foods and to increase my iodized salt. After avoiding salt for so long, it’s fun putting salt on food again, now that I know I’m deficient in iodine. I’ve found it’s even good on melon and ice cream!


One response to this post.

  1. I got on thyroid medication and my symptoms went away. I wasn’t able to fix the problem with supplements and nutrition alone, I am sad to say.


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