Understanding Hypothyroidism and Your Health
If you’re one of the estimated 20 million other Americans who struggle with thyroid issues, you know exactly how frustrating it can be to live life without all of your body’s systems working properly. Some effects of an underperforming thyroid are mild, while others can completely wipe you out. Either way, leaving your thyroid issues untreated can result in even more serious complications down the road.
Getting to know your thyroid
You have a variety of glands all over your body, each with its own unique responsibility. Your thyroid gland sits just in front of your throat at the base of your neck. This butterfly-shaped structure secretes hormones that regulate many important functions in your body.
Perhaps the most important job your thyroid has is regulating your body’s ability to process the food you eat into energy. This process is known as your metabolism. Your thyroid also has a hand in controlling your body temperature, and it’s important for growth and development in children.
One of the most common thyroid disorders is hypothyroidism. This happens when the gland is unable to produce enough hormones to keep you functioning. Without enough hormones, your body’s processes slow way down, leaving you feeling fatigued.
Other signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Dry skin
- Menstrual cycle changes
- Sensitivity to cold
- Unexplained weight gain
- Dry or thinning hair
This thyroid issue is typically a result of inflammation caused by an autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. You might also develop hypothyroidism with the use of certain medications, by receiving radiation therapy, going through a pregnancy, having surgery to remove your thyroid, or not getting enough iodine in your diet.
Hypothyroidism and your health
No matter what’s causing your hypothyroidism, or or how severe it is, getting it treated is the only way to protect yourself from further jeopardizing your health. The following are some serious medical complications that can develop from untreated hypothyroidism.
Because your thyroid plays such a large role in your metabolism, it also affects your cardiovascular health. Hypothyroidism slows your heart rate, making your pulse weak and irregular. This results in a loss of blood volume and can lead to heart failure in some cases.
Your thyroid metabolizes the food you eat and other hormones, namely your sex hormones. Men with hypothyroidism may experience problems with erectile dysfunction, low libido, and irregular sperm shape.
Women diagnosed with hypothyroidism, especially hypothyroidism caused by an autoimmune disorder, might notice problems with their menstrual cycle and difficulty getting pregnant. Similarly, hypothyroidism has been linked to problems like increased risk of miscarriage and pre-term births.
With reduced and weakened blood flow, your kidney doesn’t get the energy and nutrients it needs to properly absorb sodium and remove waste. Leaving your hypothyroidism untreated can lead to worsening renal problems.
Nervous system failures
If your thyroid isn’t firing on all cylinders, your nervous system can fail. A failing thyroid prevents your nerves from sending and receiving messages to and from your brain and other vital organs.
You’ll notice muscle weakness, breathing difficulties, trouble walking or standing, and pain in your hands and feet. Hypothyroidism also puts you at greater risk for problems like carpal tunnel syndrome.
Treating your hypothyroidism
Your path to recovery and a return to normalcy begins with an evaluation and consultation with Dr. Lawson. She conducts a thorough review of your symptoms and your medical history. The most common treatment for hypothyroidism is medication, but before recommending a treatment plan, Dr. Lawson investigates for any hormonal imbalances, tests your adrenal functioning, and assesses your gastrointestinal tract. She also offers complete thyroid testing- TSH, T3, T4, reverse T3 and thyroid antibodies.
As a part of our integrative approach to wellness, our goal is not to simply treat your frustrating symptoms, but also to address the underlying problem to ensure that you’re restored to full health.
Depending on your specific needs, Dr. Lawson recommends the following treatments:
- Dietary changes
- Lifestyle modifications
- Hormone balancing
- Metabolism support
- Herbal medicine
There’s no reason to keep feeling sluggish and unhealthy. If you’d like more information on hypothyroidism or would like to schedule a consultation, call our office at (603) 818-8777, or request an appointment online.