Do you have newly diagnosed hypothyroidism?
Perhaps you are feeling a bit overwhelmed and wondering what it really means. Here is some basic information to help you understand what is happening in your body.
What is hypothyroidism & what are the symptoms?
Hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid means that your thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormone. The thyroid hormones T3 and T4 control the metabolism throughout the body. If levels are too low your metabolism will run slow and you will feel sluggish. Common symptoms include feeling tired and cold, gaining weight and having a sense that you can’t think straight. There is a long list of other possible symptoms – see the Thyroid Uk website for such a list.
Why is my thyroid under-functioning?
There may be an obvious cause for your thyroid to be underactive. It could have been surgical removed, suppressed by medication or treatment with radioactive iodine or you could have a genetic problem that means your thyroid wasn’t working normally from birth.
For most people, however, underactive thyroid has no such obvious cause. It is then most likely that you have Hashimoto’s disease. (There are also some other less common causes of hypothyroidism which I shall not go into here.)
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune illness which means that your own immune system is attacking your thyroid tissue and causing your thyroid to fail. There is often a period of ill-health in the run up to this. You may have been under a lot of stress (physical or emotional), you may have had an infection such as glandular fever or have been suffering from digestive problems or food sensitivities.
Women and hormones
Hypothyroidism is common – approximately 2 people in 100 suffer from it and of these 90% or so are women. Thyroid imbalances often come to a head after a time of hormonal change in women, such as pregnancy or menopause.
Blood tests are used to assess thyroid function. Sometimes only TSH is measured. This is the thyroid stimulating hormone from the pituitary gland and acts as a message to the thyroid telling it to produce thyroid hormone. The higher the TSH the more your body is short of thyroid hormone, so a high TSH indicates an under-functioning thyroid and a low TSH indicates an overactive thyroid. This can seem a little confusing at first! T4 or thyroxine is one of the main hormones the thyroid produces and you may have this too tested. Raised TSH with low T4 suggests hypothyroidism.
For a full picture of what is going on with your thyroid, you would ideally have more information. A full thyroid panel would include all the following tests:
- TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)
- FT4 (Free T4, also known as thyroxine)
- TT4 (Total thyroxine)
- FT3 (Free T3, also known as triiodothyronine)
- TT3 (Total T3)
- Thyroid antibodies – both TPOAb (Thyroid peroxidase antibodies) and TgAb (Antithyroglobulin antibodies)
- rT3 (Reverse T3)
To confirm a diagnosis of autoimmune hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s), your doctor will look for raised antibodies (particularly TPOAb), together with raised TSH, and low blood level of T4.
It is a good idea to always get a copy of your blood test results so you have the actual numbers and the normal ranges for the laboratory used. As you learn more about your thyroid, you will come to understand these numbers and may well want to judge whether your levels are optimal rather than just considered to be in normal range.
Assuming your thyroid levels are not dangerously out of range, you may wish to take your time to read up on hypothyroidism and decide how you would like to approach it.
Once your TSH and T4 are out of range, your GP will probably recommend that you start you on a synthetic version of the T4 hormone, known as levothyroxine. This replaces one of the hormones your thyroid is not producing enough of. It may take a while to find the dose you need and you are likely to have regular blood tests until your levels are stable and in normal range. After that, tests will be less frequent. Your dosage of levothyroxine may change over time. However, it is generally viewed as a lifelong prescription necessary for managing hypothyroidism.
Levothyroxine is only intended to help you manage the symptoms, not to address the underlying problems that have led to you developing an underactive thyroid. For some people, levothyroxine works well and they feel back to normal. Unfortunately, for others this is not the case and they continue to feel tired, struggle to lose weight and suffer from brain fog.
Looking at the whole picture and addressing underlying causes
Are you interested to see if there are other options than conventional treatment? Perhaps you don’t feel fully well on levothyroxine? Maybe you would like to look more deeply into why you developed a thyroid imbalance in the first place? In these cases, you may find working with a complementary therapist looking at underlying causes highly beneficial.
As a holistic therapist, I look more broadly than just whether your hormone numbers are acceptable. I look for what has contributed to your reduced level of health and then address these underlying issues as part of rebuilding your overall well-being. Some of the commonest contributory factors I see are:
- an ongoing infection (eg dental) or incomplete recovery from a past infection (eg glandular fever)
- hormone imbalances, often since using hormonal contraception or going through the menopause
- continuing emotional stress (eg not happy in your job or your relationship)
- problems in the digestive system (acid reflux, food sensitivities, IBS and more)
- a major stress in the run up to your thyroid problems onsetting (eg grief or redundancy)
- exposure to environmental toxins
How could homeopathy help me?
If you decided to try homeopathic treatment with me, we would discuss the symptoms that are bothering you most. We would then work together to produce a health timeline. This looks at your past life events, illnesses and medications to identify what has contributed to the development of your thyroid problem. We would then use all this information to determine the priorities for your treatment.
After studying your story and symptoms, I will then prescribe remedies to start to work on the issues we have identified as most significant. I may well also suggest remedies to support your thyroid and indeed other connected endocrine glands such as your pituitary or adrenal glands. We will also discuss lifestyle changes to support your recovery.
I know we are on the right track when patients report back with phrases like “I feel like the old me”, “I feel stronger in myself”, “I am able to do more”, “my partner is amazed at the difference in me”.
Like to know more?
Not sure if homeopathic treatment is right for you? I would be pleased to discuss your individual needs with you to help you decide. Click below to book a free phone call for this. If you prefer, you can go straight to booking a first full consultation. I look forward to talking to you.