Why Am I So Tired? The Truth Behind an Improperly Functioning Thyroid

How many of these symptoms describe you?

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Irritability
  • Muscle aches
  • Depression
  • Rapid hair graying
  • Decreased libido
  • And too many other “little issues attributed to aging”

These little issues could be caused by a small gland with some big responsibilities. That gland is your thyroid.

The thyroid gland produces and stores hormones through an integral and complex pathway that is directly linked to your hormones and adrenals. The thyroid plays a part in EVERYTHING AND EVERY CELL IN YOUR BODY. It is butterfly-shaped and is found in the lower part of the neck, wrapped around the trachea.

Hypothyroidism: A Common Condition, But Frequently Misdiagnosed

Hypothyroidism is a condition where the body, for various reasons, doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone or is unable to utilize the thyroid at a cellular level. No matter what the cause, this diagnosis has debilitating and frustrating consequences.

Being diagnosed with hypothyroid myself in 2002, I have spent the last 13 years researching, studying,
and understanding the complexity of this “little gland.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 4.6 percent of the U.S. population (approximately 18 million people) age 12 and older has hypothyroidism. As prevalent as hypothyroidism is, most people are not correctly diagnosed when they first present symptoms to their doctors because there is not a standard interpretation criteria for screening tests—meaning that one doctor may think a slight dip below the normal range is acceptable while others would argue otherwise.

Your thyroid can be affected if your adrenals are not balanced or if your hormones are constantly fluctuating. Due to the minute-to-minute variability of ALL the hormones in your body, patients are often under-diagnosed.

A single thyroid level test is insufficient to make the determination of hypothyroidism.

Many other thyroid levels also need to be checked. These could include TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Thyroid Peroxidase Antibody, Thyroglobulin Antibody, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Vitamin D, Hormones and Cortisol.

A patient who self-educates and self-advocates is in the best position to work collaboratively with his or her doctor to determine the best course of treatment for the symptoms and diagnosis of hypothyroidism. Self-advocacy is much easier when you choose a doctor who has experience in recognizing the symptoms of hypothyroidism as well as other hormonal conditions such as diabetes and adrenal gland issues.

Treatment of Hypothyroidism

Once hypothyroidism is diagnosed, there are many treatment options that need to be considered. Synthetic thyroid (Synthroid or Levoxyl) medication is not the only option. There are T3-only medications such as Cytomel or combination of T4 and T3 medications such as Armour Thyroid or Nature Thyroid. Patients even have the option of having their thyroid medication compounded with an accredited compounding pharmacy.

Hypothyroidism is not a cookie-cutter diagnosis and neither should be the treatment.

It is extremely important to work closely with your physician to monitor symptoms and continue to regularly check your thyroid levels.

The discussion of thyroid disease is more extensive than I can capture in a single blog post. In my 15 years of practicing primary care, I have diagnosed and corrected misdiagnoses of many patients with hypothyroidism. I understand and have experienced every symptom you may be having. I know the frustrations, I understand the suffering and I continue to live with this diagnosis everyday.

If you are suffering from any symptoms that are interfering with your life, Please contact our office today to schedule an appointment.

From A to Zinc

This month truly focuses on one of the most critical elements to our functioning. You can’t walk through an isle of a store without coming face to face with one supplement or another. Each one promising to be the miracle cure for all of your ailments. But how much has science really proven the benefits of these pills? Do we really understand their benefits or are we just loading the shopping carts because it happened to be Dr.Oz’s drug of the week?

I absolutely believe and advocate supplementing our already deficient diet. The more help the better right? Maybe or maybe not.

The flavor of the month for May is Zinc. Zinc has earned rave reviews for its healing properties for the nagging cold or the sore that just won’t heal. What if I told you Zinc holds greater power than just helping with the sniffles?

The past 4 months have tail spinned me into the worst thyroid relapse I have had since I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism 12 years ago. I really felt I had a handle on the understanding of the thyroid, its functions, its nuances and its treatment. But when my symptoms came raging forth in April of this year landing me in the ER, I realized I have only begun to understand the true depth of the thyroid. After running a battery of tests, my Zinc levels were depleted to a staggering low of 45 (Optimal 100-150). This Zinc deficiency brought me to the worst hypothyroid symptoms I have ever experienced-severe fatigue, excruiating muscle pain, massive hair loss, unbelievable weight gain, extreme acne (I could have been a spokesperson for Proactive).

Because of the zinc deficiency, my thyroid took a direct hit and ceased to do any of its required functions. I began taking Zinc supplements over the last month and am only now slowly starting to see a mild improvement. With these recent events, I delved deeper into areas of the thyroid and I clearly underestimated the impact it has on our lives.

Several reports and documented studies suggest that zinc deficiency is a cause of subclinical hypothyroidism. If you have gone through your symptom check list and find a lot, if not all, mirror the symptoms related to thyroid but your thyroid levels register “normal”, zinc deficiency could very well be hindering optimal thyroid balance.

Zinc deficiencies are more prevalent in well-developed countries. Because zinc is a natural element found in muscles and everywhere on earth, eating a diet that includes lean red meats can help increase the levels of zinc. However, in many well-developed countries where health conscious individuals shun red meats, zinc deficiencies are a commonality

Significant relationships between thyroid volume and serum zinc levels showed low release of TSH, T3 and T4 as well as increasing thyroid antibodies in patient’s with autoimmune hypothyroidism.

Now before you go and start popping Zinc, request your doctor to check your levels. Although serum and plasma concentrations of Zinc are often times not 100%, it will at least give you a baseline. With Zinc, MORE IS NOT BETTER. Zinc toxicity actually worsens hypothyroid. Start with caution and monitor levels every couple of months. True Zinc deficiency often takes 4-6 months to balance. Patience, as with anything else, is key. You can’t rush optimization!

So all supplements are not bad and all supplements are not needed. Understand why you take what you take. Ask the questions and listen to the answers and if you are not content with those answers, ask again. Knowledge is power and understanding is key!

And of course, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact my office.