Is your thyroid contributing to your fatigue?
Updated: Jan 28, 2021
Have you been diagnosed with an underactive thyroid or Hashimoto’s? Perhaps you’ve had some blood tests and been told everything is “normal” but you’re still exhausted and have many other symptoms of thyroid dysfunction.
Many of my clients with fatigue also have a confirmed thyroid condition, or suspect one despite negative or "normal" tests, and sometimes a family history.
Fortunately, it's possible to support thyroid function with nutrition and lifestyle changes.
How should the thyroid work?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the bottom of the throat and is part of the endocrine system. Thyroid hormones are essential for helping cells and tissues throughout your body use energy. Two thyroid hormones are produced - thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) - and these regulate numerous bodily functions including metabolism, body temperature, blood pressure, weight and heart rate.
What can go wrong?
When the thyroid malfunctions it starts to release too few or too many hormones. This can cause an imbalance in your body's basic functions including sleep, reproduction, appetite, and digestion. An underactive thyroid (Hypothyroidism) is more common than an overactive one (Hyperthyroidism), and the main cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease where the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland and affects its function. Other causes of hypothyroidism include adrenal insufficiency - if the adrenals are not functioning properly due to prolonged stress, then the thyroid has to take up the slack.
Symptoms of an underactive thyroid:
Fatigue is a key symptom of poor thyroid function, and according to some sources, there are 100s more(!). Here are some of the more common symptoms:
Weight gain / inability to lose weight
MIND - brain fog, slow thoughts, depression
MUSCLES - aches, cramps, weakness, slow movement
SKIN & NAILS - brittle hair and nails, dry/scaly skin
HORMONES - heavy or irregular periods, loss of sex drive
OTHER - sensitive to cold, pain/numbness/tingling in hands and fingers
What about testing?
Standard testing includes measuring TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), and sometimes T4. T4 is our inactive thyroid hormone which needs to be converted into active T3, the form our cells need. Hashimoto’s disease is confirmed by the presence of antibodies in the blood.
Unfortunately T3 and antibodies are not always tested, and without these biomarkers we don't have the full picture. As a result, it's not uncommon for people to have "normal" TSH and/or T4, but still feel unwell with symptoms of dysfunction.
What affects thyroid function?
This great visual from the Institute for Functional Medicine summarises the factors that impact thyroid function:
The good news is that Nutritional Therapy may be beneficial in supporting and improving thyroid function and alleviating symptoms. Private testing is available to fully understand thyroid function, nutrients for thyroid function can be optimised with dietary changes and targeted supplementation, and the factors that affect function can be explored and addressed. (If you have been diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease, please do not supplement with iodine without the guidance of a qualified practitioner.)
If you'd like some help with improving your thyroid function why not book a FREE discovery call to find out more?
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The content on this webpage is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.