The thyroid is a critical component of everyone’s overall health. Unfortunately, many are unaware of the great influence that the small gland has over the body’s many functions. Various conditions and symptoms that may be caused by thyroid dysfunction are frequently attributed to a different condition, resulting in improper treatment.
Being aware of the wide array of symptoms and conditions that can arise from a thyroid condition can help you acquire better diagnosis and wellness.
In both excess or deficiency, thyroid hormones can negatively impact fertility. An untreated thyroid condition can result in recurrent miscarriage and intensify symptoms associated with pregnancy such as fatigue, hair loss, depression, and morning sickness.
Reduced thyroid levels may inhibit sex-hormone metabolization, thereby causing ovulatory malfunction. Additional TRH (thyroid-releasing hormone) is produced by the body when it senses low thyroid levels. While this hormone does increase TSH production it also promotes prolactin, which can inhibit ovulation. Conversely, excess thyroid hormone can act as a barrier against estrogen. This effectively destabilizes the endometrium resulting in abnormal and unwarranted uterine bleeding.
2: Low Libido
Poor thyroid function is frequently accompanied by reduced libido. Those with hypothyroidism experience reduced metabolic function meaning that the reproductive organs and adrenal glands (responsible for producing hormones that convert to sex hormones) are slowed. The result of this hormonal sluggishness is reduced estrogen and testosterone in both men and women.
Hyperthyroidism, or an excess of thyroid hormones, can also reduce libido. Although the expectation is a net reduction of libido, hyperthyroid patients may experience temporary bursts in their sex drive due to metabolic surges.
Those with depression often present reduced thyroid hormone levels. Inadequate levels of thyroid hormones T4 and T3 are most often the culprit of poor mood and mental wellness.
Studies have found that treating a thyroid imbalance often improves mood, memory, and cognition while avoiding the many side effects associated with common antidepressants.
Poor thyroid function significantly impacts metabolic ability. Therefore, those who are low thyroid frequently experience weight gain and difficulty losing weight – here are some tips to help thyroid patients lose weight.
The body regularly produces the inactive form of thyroid hormone T4. However, if it is not converted to T3 properly, but instead overly converted to RT3 (reverse T3), your metabolism can slow significantly.
The result is that the body does not burn as many calories as it should. Excess calories not utilized by your metabolism end up being stored as fat making it challenging to maintain or achieve a healthy weight.
5: Anxiety and Panic Disorders
An overactive thyroid increases metabolic function resulting in hastened bodily function. This elevated state causes various systems to speed up to a dangerous degree. In addition to physical issues, those with hyperthyroidism often feel anxious or panicky.
Those with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis may also experience bouts of anxiety. Because this condition attacks and destroys the thyroid, ultimately causing hypothyroidism, temporary bursts of thyroid hormones may be released. These bursts can induce intense anxiety at seemingly random intervals.
6: Carpal Tunnel
An untreated thyroid condition may cause pain and discomfort in the wrists. The condition more commonly known as Carpel Tunnel may actually be caused by a hormonal imbalance.
It is important to evaluate your thyroid function with the appropriate tests including at least TSH, Free T4, Free T3, and TPO (Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies). Without optimizing these areas, you may suffer from chronic wrist pain without hope of resolution.
7: Heart Disease
An important research case known as the Rotterdam Study found that older females experiencing subclinical hypothyroidism were nearly twice as likely to develop blockages of the aorta and experience heart attacks when compared to those without a thyroid condition. It was also noted that autoimmune hypothyroidism further increased the risk of heart disease.
Hypothyroidism interacts with various substances that can contribute to heart disease:
- Homocysteine, an amino acid that increases the risk of heart disease is often elevated among those with hypothyroidism. Poor thyroid function impedes the liver’s ability to regulate various substances including Homocysteine.
- High blood pressure is regularly found in hypothyroid patients because thyroid hormone is needed to maintain heart vessel flexibility. Hardened heart vessels make it more difficult to pump blood resulting in higher blood pressure.
- Heart flutters, slowed heart rate, and irregular heartbeats are also associated with hypothyroidism. This ultimately inhibits transport of oxygen and nutrients to tissues and cells throughout the body.
8: ADD and ADHD
Thyroid regulation influences cognitive function, perceptive ability, focus, reasoning, and memory. As mentioned above, hyperthyroidism often results in jitteriness and anxiety, which can contribute to an inability to focus. Sadly, thyroid issues may be overlooked in lieu of diagnosing ADD or ADHD and prescribing their associated medications. Resolving thyroid hormone imbalances may prove to be a better treatment option for many suffering from these types of behavioral disorders.
9: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD)
The thyroid and gut are highly integrated. In order to properly convert inactive T4 into active T3 to regulate metabolic function, the thyroid requires healthy gut function.
Alternatively, inhibited thyroid function can contribute to GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) development and gastrointestinal malfunction. In some cases, a nutrient deficiency of thyroid-supporting elements such as vitamins A & D, selenium, and zinc may inhibit both thyroid function and gut health. Optimizing the thyroid can significantly improve gut function and vice versa.
Hormonal swings caused by a malfunctioning thyroid can cause you to experience insomnia and unrestful sleep. The thyroid regulates production and function of cortisol, the sex hormones, and melatonin. These three groups wield impressive influence over one’s sleep cycle, ability to sleep, and overall sleep quality. If there is an imbalance in any of these areas, it is prudent to examine your thyroid to ensure it’s appropriately communicating with and regulating these other systems.
Those with hypothyroidism are likely to experience more headaches and migraines than those without a thyroid condition. It is also suggested that hypothyroidism may elevate the intensity and occurrence of migraines from episodic to chronic.
Headaches or migraines caused by thyroid malfunction generally cause pain on both sides of the head, do not cause throbbing, and maintains a constant pain level. The discomfort is comparable to a tension headache as opposed to the sharpness of a migraine. The intensity and occurrence of thyroid headaches are dictated by an individual’s thyroid function. Reduced ability results in more painful headaches and as thyroid health improves, headache intensity wanes.
The Far Reach of the Thyroid
Because the thyroid is so highly integrated into numerous systems it’s not surprising that it can be a contributing factor to many different conditions and symptoms. Being aware of the great influence of the thyroid better prepares you to open a dialogue with your doctor or endocrinologist about your symptoms and possible methods of treatment.