Is Subclinical Hypothyroidism Weighing You Down?
Most people are familiar with hypothyroidism. It’s caused when the thyroid stops producing sufficient amounts of thyroid hormones, which in turn affects functions all over the body. People with hypothyroidism experience symptoms such as crushing fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, fertility problems, joint pain, and changes in bowel function. If a doctor sees a patient who has these symptoms, they will often test their blood levels of thyroid hormones to see if they need treatment.
Unfortunately for many patients suffering from subclinical hypothyroidism symptoms, their blood tests come back within the normal range, and their doctor will conclude that they are healthy. No treatment is required for people who are healthy, so nothing is done to address the problem. People often end up seeing doctor after doctor, searching for someone who will understand what they are struggling with and help them find an answer. Frustrating physical symptoms go unaddressed and concerns are dismissed, all because the numbers in the chart don’t line up with what the patient is experiencing.
What is subclinical hypothyroidism?
For blood tests, there are standard ranges of results. As long as the test numbers are below the highest number but above the lowest number, the results are considered normal. However, this doesn’t always consider how well different people function at different levels within “normal.” Each body is different, and while some people feel just fine at the lower end of the scale, other people struggle a great deal.
Many people experience the symptoms of hypothyroidism even though their lab results are within the range of normal. It is extremely discouraging for a person who is already feeling exhausted, achy, and cold to have their doctor tell them they are perfectly healthy. Hypothyroidism carries an increased risk of depression, and the added helplessness of this situation can make it even worse. Having the symptoms of hypothyroidism, but being with the “normal” range of blood test results may indicate that you have subclinical hypothyroidism.
How can functional medicine help?
At Apollo Medical Associates, our approach to subclinical hypothyroidism allows us to focus more closely on the symptoms than the numbers through natural treatment that is custom to your unique situation. After all, it doesn’t matter to you if your labs look great if you feel terrible. When a patient presents with subclinical hypothyroid symptoms there are a few approaches we take to helping them feel their best again:
Medical Hormone Support
Hormone replacement therapy can be very helpful in resolving subclinical hypothyroid symptoms. Functional medicine practitioners may prescribe medications to help resolve these debilitating symptoms even when the lab results are within normal ranges. In this case, the treatment is focused on the patient’s response to the hormone support. Blood tests are used to be sure the hormone levels remain within a safe range, but the treatment goal is helping the patient feel better. Each person’s body functions differently, and some people experience dramatic improvements by just nudging them into the upper level of “normal” through a customized hormone replacement strategy.
For subclinical hypothyroidism, what is even better than removing the symptoms is the natural treatment of healing the body so it can function its best. Resetting hormone levels with medication can help with that, but many people find that lifestyle changes are needed for further healing.
One simple issue that can be addressed is iodine level imbalance. Most people get the majority of this nutrient from iodized salt. However, low salt diets or switching to non-iodized sea salt can result in a deficiency. It is important to work with a health professional if you are supplementing with iodine, because it is easy to get too much, which can lead to subclinical hypothyroidism in addition to other symptoms that may also require a treatment plan.
Gluten can also lead to problems with the thyroid. Some people develop antibodies in response to gluten. Those antibodies can then attack the thyroid, resulting in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Traditional doctors generally don’t test for antibodies, as their focus is solely on the blood levels of thyroid hormones, but we find that tracking antibody levels helps us work to treat the processes that are causing the body to attack the thyroid.
If you are struggling with subclinical hypothyroidism symptoms that traditional treatments and standard medicine haven’t been able to help, please contact our functional medicine team at Apollo Medical Associates to see how we can help you. We are committed to helping each patient live in vibrant health.