Feeling moody and tired, not sleeping well at night and gaining weight are quite common symptoms amongst women in their 50s. However, before jumping to conclusions and blaming it all on menopause, it might be useful to consider them as signs of an underactive thyroid gland.
According to The American Thyroid Association, women are more likely than men to have problems with their thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, particularly as they get older. Nonetheless, it is estimated that 60 per cent of the 20 million Americans with a form of thyroid disease are unaware that they have it. This is because the early symptoms can have a slow, gradual onset and you may not even connect them to a possible thyroid condition.
Common Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Usually, feeling fatigued and having no energy might be strongly linked with hypothyroidism, a disorder that is the result of too little thyroid hormone that regulates metabolism. If you’re still tired after a good night’s sleep, that’s a clue that your thyroid may be underactive. Also, the production of too little thyroid hormone can have an impact on the levels of serotonin in the brain, making you forgetfulness, moody and low. Too little thyroid hormone could also be a contributor to low libido, dry and itchy skin, brittle nails, hair loss and constipation.
Why Does Hypothyroidism Set In?
The most typical cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. With this condition, your body thinks that your thyroid doesn’t belong there and attacks it. In trying to protect you, your body damages the thyroid tissue, sometimes causing a goiter and reduced thyroid hormone production.
Hypothyroidism has also been linked to iodine deficiency. Iodine is needed for the production of thyroid hormone. Too little iodine can result in goiter, or enlargement of the thyroid gland. So, if you have symptoms of hypothyroidism, but your labs are normal, you may want to supplement with iodine and/or a high-quality seaweed.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with the condition, don’t panic. Hypothyroidism can be treated and your doctor will prescribe thyroid hormones in pill form to replace what your thyroid gland can no longer make. You can also find support and more information online; ‘Thyroid Change‘ is an informational health and advocacy website dedicated to improving the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disease through a physician-patient cooperative approach.
Are there any natural remedies?
The standard treatment for hypothyroidism is taking daily thyroid hormone replacement medication. However thyroid pharmacist Izabella Wentz, the author of the New York Times bestseller, Hashimoto’s Protocol: A 90-Day Plan for Reversing Thyroid Symptoms and Getting Your Life Back has outlined a natural approach that promises to get the most out of your thyroid medication.
With the help of delicious recipes, thyroid-supporting nutrients and strategies for making dietary changes an easy part of one’s life and detailed protocols, she promises to help transform the body into a safe place so that it can receive the foods needed to heal.
Lifestyle interventions are often ignored by mainstream medicine – she says. Interventions such as eliminating infections, addressing nutrient depletion, reducing sensitizing foods and addressing adrenal function can help to improve symptoms, and even reduce or eliminate autoimmunity.
While addressing the root cause is critical to reaching thyroid autoimmunity remission, there are many ways in which you can reduce antibodies and inflammation with supportive care. Certainly following a healthy regime might help, as well as getting quality sleep each night, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and considering the use of stress-relieving mechanisms, like meditation and yoga, to help you combat low energy levels. Many people with thyroid conditions have vitamin and mineral deficiencies which can affect the conversion and utilization of thyroid hormone. Physicians are finding that low levels of vitamin D, vitamin B12, iodine, iron, and/or ferritin are often concurrent with thyroid disease in their patients.
Supplementation is usually required to correct a deficiency and should be monitored by a qualified physician to achieve optimal levels and to avoid excess.