Exhausted, moody and forgetful patients often come in with this common complaint: “I’m tired, but I can’t sleep, I’m gaining weight like crazy, and my head feels weird.” If you’ve been struggling with insomnia, brain fog or unexplained weight gain, it may be time to check your thyroid gland.
That little butterfly-shaped organ at the base of your neck may be producing too much or not enough thyroid hormone. So many biological functions are controlled by your hormones: energy, mood, metabolism, body temperature, sleep, sexual function, digestion, even hair and nail growth.
Endocrinologists often give patients one generic thyroid test and make a diagnosis based on a traditionally accepted but outdated “normal” range. Some traditional doctors get so frustrated with thyroid imbalance symptoms they refer patients to a psychiatrist!
Naturopathic doctors like Dr. Schertell and Dr. Mauss, on the other hand, understand that digging up the root causes of your symptoms takes time, patience and the highly integrative approach they’ve been practicing for over a decade.
Rather than dictating what thyroid hormone level is “normal” for everyone, they strive to determine what level is optimal – for you. They want to know what level will enable you to function and maintain your lifestyle. For them, “normal” means symptom-free. So, they delve deeper, and don’t stop testing and treating until you feel better.
Thyroid Imbalance Symptoms
If your body functions require more or less thyroid hormone than your gland is currently producing, you may be struggling with:
- weight gain or weight loss
- hair loss
- anxiety and irritability
- brain for and memory impairment
- neck swelling
- dry, brittle nails
- feeling too cold or too hot
- abnormal periods
- water retention
- high blood cholesterol
- frequent infections and colds
- hand numbness
- carpal tunnel syndrome
Some patients panic, fearing it’s thyroid cancer – a very rare condition. If you have nodules (lumps) on your thyroid gland Dr. Schertell and Dr. Mauss will have them evaluated to make sure they’re benign. Most likely your symptoms are being stimulated by your thyroid gland’s over or under production of thyroid hormone.
Hypothyroidism vs Hyperthyroidism
Hypothyroidism is diagnosed when your thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones, potentially leading to weight gain, fatigue, feeling cold, muscle weakness, high cholesterol, joint pain or stiffness, and even depression.
Along with blood sugar regulating hormone and leptin resistance, low thyroid hormone can make losing weight very difficult – as your thyroid gland affects metabolic rate, blood sugar, affecting hunger and satiety.
Research has repeatedly demonstrated the link between hypothyroidism and obesity. That’s why Dr. Schertell and Dr. Mauss thoroughly investigate your energy production, basal metabolism and other weight loss saboteurs.
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: autoimmune inflammation disrupting the thyroid gland’s hormone production. Whole or partial surgical removal of the thyroid gland also disables thyroid hormone production.
Hyperthyroidism is diagnosed when a hyperactive thyroid gland produces more thyroid hormone than your body needs, causing fatigue, hair loss, irritability, weight loss and excessive sweating.
Common hyperthyroidism causes include Graves’ disease (an autoimmune dysfunction) and thyroiditis (thyroid gland inflammation). Thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer are rare causes of an overactive thyroid.
Left untreated, both hyper- and hypothyroidism can enlarge the thyroid gland until it develops a goiter – which can cause your neck to swell and make swallowing difficult.