EverlyWell: Signs of an Under-Active Thyroid
Almost ten percent of society is plagued with an under-active thyroid, and about half of those do not know that. This means approximately fifteen million Americans have an easily diagnosable and correctable disorder that affects weight, energy, and the risk for many other diseases.
Low Thyroid Hormone Levels
The thyroid gland sits on the neck and, in response to a signal from the brain, makes thyroid hormone--T3 and T4--that stimulates the cells to burn energy. Lower levels of thyroid hormone means lower energy, and since less calories are burned for energy, more weight is stored. Therefore, an under-active thyroid is associated with fatigue and weight gain. In addition, because less calories, such as carbohydrates and fats, are burned for energy, an under-active thyroid is associated with increased risk of diabetes and high cholesterol. These increase the risk of heart disease.
Detecting an Underactive Thyroid with Hormone Testing
Fortunately, typically diagnosis of an under-active thyroid is straightforward. An under-active thyroid often causes the brain to release an extra hormone to stimulate the thyroid called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, or TSH. So high levels of TSH suggest an under-active thyroid, and that is why physicians will commonly use TSH as an initial thyroid screening test. You can also measure levels of Thyroid hormones, T3 and T4. While total levels of these hormones can be measured, it is only the T3 and T4 that are not bound to a hormone, or “Free”, that have an effect. Therefore, the Free T3 and Free T4 are often measured to assess thyroid function. Everly currently offers the TSH screen in its Metabolism panel, and will be soon coming out with a Thyroid panel that offers all of these markers.
In addition to thyroid testing, Everly offers tests for minerals that can affect the thyroid, including Iodine, Selenium, and Bromine. Furthermore, if hypothyroidism is suspected, Everly’s Cardiovascular panel can assess whether cholesterol or blood sugar is elevated, and if this is corrected by addressing the Thyroid issue. By understanding whether the thyroid is under-active, as well as its causes and effects, you can help optimize your weight, energy, and health risks.