Am I Hypothyroid?
Sep 01, 2014 07:35PM
By Dr. Les Cole, M.D.
Are you depressed? Anxious? Panic attacks?
“What? Really? Hypothyroidism can be the cause of these?” Yes! Many studies show a relationship between hypothyroidism and these disorders. Depression is a major symptom of hypothyroidism and many of the symptoms of depression are the same as hypothyroid symptoms. And when antidepressants alone don’t work, adding thyroid hormone can often improve depression, even in patients with normal thyroid tests.
Anxiety and panic attacks are also common symptoms of hypothyroidism and there is a significant relationship between Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (a cause of hypothyroidism) and anxiety. This is not to say that if you are depressed or anxious, hypothyroidism is necessarily the cause, but if not the cause, it can certainly contribute. If you are depressed, anxious or have panic attacks, you may be hypothyroid, even if in the past you have been told your thyroid tests are normal (see below).
Are you fatigued? Do you have low energy?
Your thyroid hormone, T3 (the active thyroid hormone), has many functions. One of these is to increase the number of mitochondria (power plants) in your cells. Your mitochondria are intracellular organelles that produce ATP molecules. Your ATP molecules are the currency of energy. They provide the energy for every action in your body that requires energy. For example, every time your muscles contract— including your heart, you use large amounts of ATP. So, if you are fatigued or feel low energy, your T3 levels may not be sufficient (optimized) and you may not be producing enough mitochondrial power plants and ATP energy currency.
Are you cold intolerant? Do you have cold hands? Feet? Does your body temperature run low? Are you heat intolerant?
As noted above, T3 increases the number of your mitochondria. I can’t express how important to your health just this one function of your thyroid (T3) is. How it affects your temperature is twofold. Your mitochondria are not only the power plants of your cells (and thus your body), they are also the furnaces! Every time ATP energy currency is produced in your cells, heat is also produced. So first, your body heat is increased simply by increasing the number of your mitochondrial furnaces. But secondly, T3 also stimulates production of “uncoupling protein” in your mitochondria which produces even more heat (and burns more fat!). You are probably thinking, “Why is all this heat so important?” Well, every function of your body is exquisitely designed to work optimally at a core body temperature of 98.6° Fahrenheit. So, if your body temperature runs low, there is a good chance you are hypothyroid. Interestingly, if you are heat intolerant, this can also be a symptom of hypothyroidism because thyroid is needed for sweating and sweating is needed for evaporative cooling of your body.
Have you noticed difficulty with your memory? Concentration? Has your thinking slowed? Do you feel foggy-headed? Are you easily distracted?
One of T3’s important functions is to increase the energy for your brain to perform, but it also increases your brain’s “clock speed”. Clock speed is how quickly things get done in your neurons (brain cells) and therefore how quickly you are mentally able to process information. If T3 is not at the correct level for you, it can contribute to slowed brain function.
Are you overweight? Do you have trouble losing weight?
We first must identify what causes fat accumulation. This occurs primarily from the conversion of unused (excess) blood sugar to triglycerides and cholesterol in the liver. Every carbohydrate you eat that is not fiber gets absorbed as sugar. If you eat more carbohydrates than you burn, you will produce more triglycerides and cholesterol, which will then be deposited in your fat cells. If you are hypothyroid, your T3 won’t produce as many power plants (mitochondria) to burn the carbohydrates (sugar) and use it up. You won’t produce as much uncoupling protein, which increases the burning of both sugar and fat. You also won’t have as many power plants to produce enough energy for you to feel like exercising, so you will be less likely to exercise to burn up excess sugar. And since your muscles burn mostly fat when you are sitting, the less muscle you have, the less fat and sugar you will burn. And one pound of muscle burns approximately 20 times the calories as a pound of fat—at rest!
Is your cholesterol elevated? Your triglycerides?
From the paragraph above, you can see that if you don’t burn excess sugar, it will go to the liver and be converted to triglycerides and cholesterol. Since modern day processed foods are packed full of carbohydrates and sugar, if your T3 is low or even not optimal, you will more likely have excess sugar being converted to cholesterol and triglycerides, and when it no longer gets stored well in your fat cells (as in insulin resistance), your blood levels increase and your doctor says, “Statin— stat!” And before there were tests to measure TSH, T4 and T3, your blood cholesterol and triglycerides were the test used to determine if you were hypothyroid. If they were elevated, you were hypothyroid and treated with thyroid replacement until they were lowered back into the normal range!
Have you had problems with infertility? Miscarriage? PMS? PCOS?
If you have had problems with any of these conditions, hypothyroidism may be causative or at least contributory. The explanations for these associations are a bit more complex, however; just remember that for your ovarian cells (and all your cells) to work correctly, they need adequate levels of T3. To work at peak efficiency, they need optimal levels of thyroid. In order for all your other hormones, including sex hormones, to function optimally, your T3 has to function optimally. And it’s not just women that are affected. Men, low thyroid can decrease your fertility as well. There are several ways thyroid can affect this, and one is making sure there are enough mitochondrial power plants and ATP energy currency for your swimmers to go the distance.
One more example of how T3 affects essentially everything is its affect on orgasm. Remember above when we talked about “clock speed”? Well, T3 also affects the clock speed of your orgasm. Orgasm is manifested through nerve impulses and thinking sexual thoughts. So, if you have decreased T3 and decreased neural clock speed, what do you think happens to your ability to achieve orgasm? That’s right, it is slowed, and if T3 is low enough, it can be difficult to achieve orgasm at all. The opposite can also be true. With elevated T3, premature orgasm and premature ejaculation can also be a problem.
You can see that Thyroid Hormone (T3) is extremely important to your health and how you feel. Low thyroid is not the only thing that can cause the various symptoms above, but when you begin to have a number of them together, the case for hypothyroidism increases greatly. There are many, many other symptoms of hypothyroidism as well as disease states that hypothyroidism leads to—from diabetes and heart failure to migraines, to name a few. For a more complete list of symptoms and disease conditions caused or contributed to by clinical hypothyroidism, go to StPeteHW.com.
If you have any of the symptoms or conditions listed in this article or on our website, have your thyroid evaluated by a physician who will listen to your symptoms and use your story to guide your partnering and path to wellness.
Dr. Les Cole, M.D. and Dr. Susan Beaven, M.D., St. Petersburg Health & Wellness, specialize in Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT). Hormones direct all bodily functions. When out of balance and not optimized, they lead to an imbalance in your metabolism, a loss of health and eventually disease. Dr. Cole is certified in Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine and Integrative and Holistic Medicine. Call 727-202-6807 or visit StPeteHW.com to see this month’s special “Am I Hypothyroid?” pricing.
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