Hypothyroidism has been dubbed the silent epidemic. If you are suffering from low thyroid function you are not alone, approximately 1 in 50 women and 1 in 10 men will develop symptoms of hypothyroidism at some stage in their lives. Diagnosis can be difficult and once diagnosed with hypothyroidism help can be hard to find and treatment can be anything but straightforward.
If you think that you might be suffering from an underactive thyroid, here are a couple of simple and safe tests that you can try, which may help you to better discuss your symptoms with your GP.
Taking your early morning temperature
Your normal body temperature or basal temperature measurement (BTM) can be a valuable indicator of your thyroid activity as the thyroid gland has a direct effect on the metabolic rate which in turn has a direct influence on body temperature hypothyroid sufferers have below normal temperatures.
The Barnes Basal Temperature Measurement
- Take your temperature for three consecutive days, immediately upon waking
- Place thermometer under the arm for 10 minutes
- Don’t move or talk until the test is complete
- women who are menstruating should measure on days 2,3 and 4 of there period
The normal BTM is in the range of 97.8-98.2 F or 36.6-36.8 C a morning temperature below 97.8 F could be an indication of hypothyroidism.
- Are your energy levels much lower then they were five years ago?
- Are you experiencing unexplained weight gain?
- Is your concentration poorer then it was five years ago?
- Is your short-term memory not as good as your long-term memory?
- Do you experience any aches or pains or any muscle or joint stiffness?
- Are your symptoms at their worst, just after waking up?
- Do you often feel cold when those around you aren’t, especially your hands and feet?
- Do you suffer from any digestive problems?
- Do you often suffer from constipation?
- Has your sex drive diminished?
- Do you often feel stressed?
- Do you often feel depressed?
- Do you often feel moody and irritable?
- Do you suffer from anxiety?
- Are your symptoms worse with missed meals?
- Do suffer from PMS and/or heavy periods?
- Do you suffer from constipation?
- Are you experiencing dry skin or hair loss?
- Do you frequently contract throat or lung infections?
- Do you suffer constant headaches?
- Do often suffer catarrh or nasal congestion?
- Do you suffer from dizziness or poor balance?
Although many of the above symptoms can be caused by other medical conditions, anyone who experiences any of these symptoms should consult their GP, who will then discuss symptoms, perform a physical examination and request some blood tests if he or she suspects that hypothyroidism might be the problem.
The first step in diagnosing hypothyroidism is to measure TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone). When the thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormone, the TSH level is raised. If this is the case, T4 (thyroxine) is also measured, and in autoimmune hypothyroidism or hypothyroidism due to the treatment of hyperthyroidism, T4 will be found to be low.
The problem is, though a patient may be exhibiting all the signs of hypothyroidism their T4 may appear to be within the normal range, such cases of mild or subclinical hypothyroidism can often go diagnosed.
If you are subclinical or you are not responding to the normal treatment there is much that you can do to ease your symptoms and aid the return to a normal life.
Although exercise is important to health and can help to minimise the weight gain common to hypothyroid sufferers it is often the last thing you feel like doing, but if approached cautiously a regime of gentle cardiovascular exercise could help to increase your metabolism and facilitate a slow reduction in weight. For optimum results, a daily workout lasting 30 to 45 minutes is recommended.
Many of the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism can be greatly alleviated by the adoption of the Mediterranean diet.
There are a number of nutrients which are essential for the proper conversion of T4 to T3
Required for the effective conversion of T4 to T3
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Not directly linked to hypothyroidism, but supplementing with this vitamin can help to improve mood, memory, and concentration.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Helps in the conversion of the amino acid phenylalanine to tyrosine and in the production and release TSH.
Also essential for the conversion of phenylalanine to tyrosine.
A cofactor in the metabolism of tyrosine
Also involved in the metabolism of tyrosine
Essential to the conversion of phenylalanine to tyrosine.
Copper is essential for the conversion of T4 to T3 at the cellular level, and it is important to note, that in those suffering from hypothyroidism, copper absorption can be reduced. This mineral also plays a role in tyrosine metabolism.
Essential for the conversion of phenylalanine to tyrosine.
Manganese is involved in the production thyroxine and assists the transport of T4.
This mineral also plays an important role in the conversion of T4 to T3 and protects against free radical damage. Tissue levels of this important mineral reduce with age and as selenium is usually deficient in soils that have been heavily worked, it is important to supplement your diet.
Essential for the conversion of T4 to T3
Patients with low thyroid activity have been found to have low levels of Carnitine in their blood.
As the precursor of T3 and T4 this is an essential nutrient in the maintenance of healthy thyroid function. If Iodine levels are normal thyroid activity can often be improved by tyrosine supplementation.
Phenylalanine is converted in the body to Tyrosine.
So if you are suffering from Hypothyroidism Help can be found.