Hypothyroidism is a health condition in which your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones needed for metabolism and energy. Your metabolism affects your body’s temperature, your heartbeat and how well you burn calories. When you have hypothyroidism, you become tired and sluggish as your body processes slow down.
Also known as underactive thyroid disease, hypothyroidism can be detected by assessing the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood. A high TSH level indicates hypothyroidism.
SYMPTOMS OF HYPOTHYROIDISM
In mild or early cases of hypothyroidism, there may be no symptoms at all. In more severe cases, symptoms include:
- tiredness, sluggishness
- an inability to tolerate cold temperatures
- unexplained weight gain, difficulty losing weight
- dry hair, hair loss
- swelling or enlargement of the thyroid gland (goiter) which can cause tightness in the throat or difficulty swallowing food
- irregular menstrual cycle
- carpal tunnel syndrome
In addition to these symptoms, Dr. Yik has found that some patients with hypothyroidism also suffer from acid reflux, anaemia, food allergies or intolerances (such as gluten), digestive or absorption issues as well as nutrient deficiencies.
CAUSES OF HYPOTHYROIDISM
One of the most common causes of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation of the thyroid gland and symptoms similar to hypothyroidism. This immune disorder is diagnosed with blood tests that measure thyroid hormones (TSH, T3, T4, FT3, FT4) and antibodies (Anti-TPO, Anti-TG). In practice, Dr. Yik has found a link between Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Epstein Barr virus (mononucleosis) as well as Blastocystis hominis infections. Sometimes, patients’ health histories include contracting (or experiencing symptoms of) these infections shortly prior to being diagnosed with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s. Some aren’t even aware of having these pre-existing infections until Dr. Yik runs tests for them. For certain patients, thyroid condition and function return to normal after treating these Epstein Barr and Blastocystis hominis infections.
Other causes of hypothyroidism include surgical removal of the thyroid gland, irradiation of the thyroid gland and inflammatory conditions. Estrogen dominance (a hormonal imbalance) may also cause the liver to produce higher levels of thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG), which binds to thyroid hormone in circulation, thereby decreasing the amount of thyroid hormone which can be used by cells. In addition, Dr. Yik has found that for some patients with Hashimoto’s, thyroid antibodies return to normal when gluten is removed from the diet.
HOW DOES HYPOTHYROIDISM AFFECT FERTILITY IN WOMEN?
In women of reproductive age, hypothyroidism prevents ovulation from occurring regularly, which in turn causes a woman’s period to be less frequent (oligomenorrhoea) or to stop completely (amenorrhea). You need to ovulate in order to get pregnant. Hypothyroidism also affects fertility by causing elevation in another hormone called prolactin, which stimulates milk production after childbirth. Elevated prolactin levels can cause infertility as well as milk discharge from breasts (galactorrhea). Women with hypothyroidism are also more likely to suffer from miscarriages.
If you have difficulty conceiving, get your thyroid hormones and antibodies checked. It is crucial to get treated for hypothyroidism in order to ensure that your body is functioning optimally. If you suffer from gut conditions (IBS, diarrhea, excessive gas, bloating, digestive issues, etc.), had a previous Epstein Barr infection or have other health concerns in addition to thyroid imbalances, seek a natural healthcare practitioner who is trained to help you address the root causes of your condition.
Dr. Yik helps numerous women conceive and give birth to healthy babies. Click here to read more about her Natural Fertility Enhancement program.